A controversial article

A controversial article

By Shannyn J. Gillespie

Why do athletic/sport leagues around the globe separate the genders in competition? 

That question is the theme of this article and the short answer appears to be a competitive advantage.  Below, will discuss several issues that wrestling enthusiasts are also faced with when males compete with females after puberty…


Wrestling, like many sports, does have injuries and this fact is exasperated when females compete with males.  In other words, males get injured when wrestling males frequently and seemingly at every tournament.  

The nature of sports & athletics predisposes many to injuries which are not limited to these factors: strength, overuse, fatigue, incorrect technique, & nutrition.  This info is not new and again is intensified when males wrestle females largely due to the first point or the strength factor.

Weight classes

The main reason for weight classes in weight class sports is to create competitive balance.  Written another way, bigger stronger athletes have a strength advantage over smaller less strong athletes in the same sport.  

Those words are not meant to be disparaging and are in fact — facts.  If this were not the case, weight class sports would not have weight classes and competitive balance would not be an argument.  This paragraph ties into the last paragraph regarding strength & injuries.


For almost a century (wrestling started in US colleges in 1903) females were not allowed to compete in collegiate wrestling nor scholastic (high school) wrestling.  In fact, the first women’s varsity program was sponsored at the University Minnesota-Morris in 1993.  The first state to sponsor or sanction high school girls wrestling was Hawaii in 1998.  Now, there are 80+ collegiate women’s wrestling sponsored programs and 30+ states that sanction high school girls wrestling.

Does the last paragraph imply that females did not want to wrestle?


Does that paragraph imply that females were not allowed to wrestle?

The author believes it is a combination of the above factors/questions based on the below rationale.

Many females were not allowed or encouraged to participate in sponsored nor sanctioned athletics really until the passing of Title IX in the US.  So, many females did not believe it was their place to participate in athletics nor sports like wrestling.  

Because female wrestling is one of the fastest growing sports in US colleges & high schools, it stands to reason that many college athletics conferences and high school athletics organizations provide opportunities for female wrestling.

The challenge with the last sentence could be the word “reason”.  

Other sports

Most college & high school athletics are separated by gender due to the injury, strength, & competitive balance factors.  In some cases where a female athletic team is not sponsored at a US college or high school, a female may join a male team.  As suggested, this provides opportunity and also gives males a competitive advantage while increasing the injury risk for females – in all sports/athletics including wrestling.

Seems obvious

The reality of males competing against females in wrestling is seen frequently in US high school athletics (and below high school levels).  The other truth is that most sports in the US provide an opportunity for females to have a female only version of the sport.  The question to ask to the powers that be in scholastic wrestling is this:

Why is it okay for females to compete against males in wrestling, but not in the majority of athletics like basketball, baseball, track & field?

It is rare for females to compete against males at the college level in wrestling but many large NCAA DI college conferences like the Pac 12, Big 10, Big 12, ACC, & Ivy League do not sponsor female wrestling.  So, if females want to compete in wrestling in those very well known college conferences, they must form a wrestling club largely on their own…

This does not seem fair.

Closing thoughts

Female wrestling in the US has made great strides since 1993 & 1998.  Female wrestling has the opportunity to create even more competitive balance plus participation growth (and reduce female wrestling injuries) by sponsoring & sanctioning female only wrestling in all colleges & high schools that sponsor & sanction athletics.  This will have a trickle down effect too and impact female wrestling students below high school levels that, in many cases, idolize & emulate their heroes.

The Mongolian Experience Recap

From June 16 – August 12, 2017, Coach Shannyn toured Mongolia as a strength & conditioning coach for both the men’s & women’s Mongolian National Freestyle Wrestling Teams.

The author has been offered to write a story about these experiences by Amateur Wrestling News to be published in their print & online subscription service in the October edition – so, this blog will serve as a promotion for that article, a video recap of sorts, & a discussion on the importance of interval training for wrestling:

Please view our YouTube page & below for the entire catalogue, synopsis of The Mongolian Experience via a video recap:

  1. Mongolian Wrestling 2017 (14 videos)
  2. Mongolian Training 2017 (18 videos)
  3. Mongolian Landscape 2017 (20 videos)
  4. Mongolian Random 2017 (9 videos)

In addition to above, #coachshannynmongolia can be used at below social media for more video recaps:

You can also learn more about High Performance Training right now at the below links:

Copyright © by Coach Shannyn,  All rights reserved

The U23 World Champ. Blog

Mongolian “National Wrestling” displayed in above image during Coach Shannyn’s tour of Mongolia.  (This blog was written in Mongolia.)

In the below video, a discussion is lead regarding the U23 World Championships scheduled to take place November 21-26 in Bydgoszcz, Poland:

Currently, these wrestling world championships exist:

  • Olympic Games
  • Sr. Worlds
  • World University
  • U23 Worlds
  • U20 | Jr. Worlds
  • U17 | Cadet Worlds

Prior to making a national team that competes in one of the above world championships, athletes must compete in a national tournament or some type of world team trials to represent their country on the world stage and these tournaments are generally held in the spring or summer.

All of the world championships are typically held from July-November or during the summer and now fall months.  These world championships, now more than ever, have a more direct negative impact on long term athlete development for many high school and collegiate wrestlers in the USA.  This is stated because most USA high school & collegiate wrestlers’ season is from November – February or March, and, if these athletes’ competed in these summer or fall world championships, they might be competing year round.

Year round training & competing does not allow the body to adequately recover, adapt, adjust, nor supercompensate.  When the body (muscles & mind) properly recover after training bouts & competitions, there is a period of time that the body relaxes and is ready to begin training or competing again.  Many sports scientists call this part of the season the transition period while many coaches simply call it the off-season.

Because of the amount of competitions and tournaments that are available now year round, high performance training (a systematic approach to training & competing) is becoming more important.  HPT takes into consideration the entire calendar year as it relates to the athletes’ long term growth, development, & overall welfare.

The author suggests that too many competitions annually will ultimately contribute to burnout, overtraining, & a lack of motivation for training or competitions.  Too many competitions (i.e. competing year round) without a break – is not recommended by many sports scientists nor coaches for optimal training/preparation in a long term athlete development plan.

To prevent overtraining or under-recovery in today’s world of year round competitions AND to promote peak performances in major competitions, it is suggested to carefully plan, plus, have a definite understanding and application of these training principles: periodization, recovery, peaking & tapering, & high performance training.

Coaches, parents, & administrators have to keep the student athletes’ total health in mind – if they plan to prepare these students for year round competitions – due to the significant higher risk of burnout, overtraining, & injuries induced by 12-month long training & competing.  These 3 factors or characteristics are more likely to exist when athletes are competing year round and may actually reduce the total amount of athletes in our wonderful sport over the long term.

Related articleCoach Shannyn | Back to High School | Off to Mongolia

Social media: use #coachshannynmongolia for Mongolia tour video recaps:

You can also learn more about High Performance Training right now at the below links:

Copyright © by Coach Shannyn,  All rights reserved

Coach Shannyn | Back to High School | Off to Mongolia

Shannyn Gillespie (1)

Update: for #coachshannynmongolia video review:

After a very successful season with the Lincoln College (LC) wrestling program, where he and head coach Daryl Thomas guided the Lynx wrestlers to academic & athletic success, Coach Shannyn is embracing new opportunities as head wrestling coach at Homewood-Floosmoor (IL) high school next fall and also strength & conditioning coach for the Mongolian Wrestling Federation this summer.

The LC wrestling program amassed a team cumulative grade point average of 3.02 during the first semester and also went from 29th to 4th at the NJCAA National Championships during Coach Shannyn & Coach Thomas’ tenure.

Coach Shannyn stated “I will bring the same level of expectation and excellence to HF”.

Gillespie, who prefers to be called Coach Shannyn, also has experience as a strength & conditioning coach and suggests this was part of the reason the Lynx wrestling program achieved more success than the previous year – prior to he and Coach Thomas arriving:

“In weigh-in sports like wrestling, judo, MMA, or even Olympic weight lifting, close to maximum strength for the entirety of the season is important.”

He went on say “My experience as strength & conditioning coach at the U.S. Olympic Education Center Female Freestyle program was a large part of the reason the ladies were able to maintain their strength at the World Team Trials, Jr. Worlds, University Worlds, & Sr. Worlds.”

From 2004-2012, Coach Shannyn was the women’s program coordinator for the U.S. Olympic Education Center wrestling team.  During his stint at the USOEC, he coached at 34 National Championships, 12 international tournaments & camps, 4 World Championships, & 1 Pan American Championship.

At the USOEC, Coach Shannyn also coached individuals to: 29 National Championship Gold medals, 14 World or Pan American medals, 5 USA Wrestling Outstanding Wrestler Awards, & 1 Olympic Bronze medal.

When asked how we will transition what he has learned to Homewood-Flossmoor & Mongolia, he replied “The invaluable knowledge that I’ve learned at my most recent jobs with the U.S. Olympic Training Centers, USA National Teams, Overtime School of Wrestling, & now Lincoln College will be a huge part of the success of the High Performance Training systems employed at HF & Mongolia“.


You can also learn more about High Performance Training right now at the below links:

Copyright © by Coach Shannyn,  All rights reserved

Blog 30: HPT-PST Day 7: Performance Planning

Using all of the HPT – Psychological Skills Training consistently to perform is called Performance Planning.  In this version of Performance Planning, learn how to use the very important skill of a recovery routine to recover from adversity.


In a nutshell, a recovery routine or a recovery plan is a well thought out strategy to help you deal with unplanned events.

What unplanned events can happen at a competition?

Here is a list of some of the unplanned events that have happened to me or athletes I have coached:

  • Re-paired bracket
  • Competition bus leaves you
  • Lights go out
  • Electricity goes out & stops your match
  • Tournament is delayed
  • Bad call by referee
  • Lost match
  • Losing streak
  • Feeling pressure to win
  • Competition venue too cold
  • Competition venue too hot

How do you deal with these unplanned events and still compete at a high level?

The main point for a recovery plan/routine is to apply a systematic strategy to deal with unplanned stress (adversity) that disrupts productive performance(s).

To learn more about recommended recovery plan strategies, please view the above video.

You can also learn more about High Performance Training right now at the below links:

Copyright © by Coach Shannyn,  All rights reserved

Blog 29: PST • Performance Planning

Performance Planning is the culmination of  Psychological Skills Training to be applied everyday in practice and at all competitions.  This plan will assist your long term athlete development for your career.

Many athletes & coaches focus their collective strategy for success in competitions on mastering physical skills that deal with: technique, tactics, and strength & conditioning.  This is very common as it should be, right?

What about the psychological side or mental training that must also be honed daily?

Let’s look at it another way…

What happens when athletes get overly anxious or tense or nervous?  Do they perform optimally or at their very best?

Or, do they freeze up and perform much less then optimal or much less than their best?

In my experience, the latter is more probable and this is the reason why performance planning encompasses Goals, Focus, Self-Talk, Imagery, & Energy Management.  These mental skills or psychological skills can be trained, combined, & executed to assist all wrestlers in meeting the results they want to achieve – if trained in an everyday fashion – just like practice.

What’s the secret to success?

Are you ready for the answer?

The secret to success is a very effective written plan that is executed and is continuously revised for improvement.  Some say, this is the essence of learning and then applying what has been learned.

Rest assured, competition breeds competition.  In other words, at most points in everyone’s life, they will be competing against others who also use effective plans or what I like to call High Performance Training plans.

Because of the last paragraph, it may make sense to start using an effective plan for success today (then execute & revise the plan) – and now you have the tools to do so!

You can also learn more about High Performance Training right now at the below links:

Copyright © by Coach Shannyn,  All rights reserved

Blog 28: CST • Imagery

This initial imagery talk shows how the imagination can assist & control the pictures you see in your head.  These pictures can either help or hurt your ability to flourish in athletics, academics, & life.

The above featured image, Olympic Rings, conjures up athletics at the highest level or athletes competing in the Olympic Games for many folks.  The idea that a picture or an image can induce thoughts or actions is as real as the former statement.  If this is partially true, can we use imagery to our advantage?


Using your mind to help you achieve your goals is essential in sport and in life.  So, as we travel through all of our endeavors, learning how to create images that enhance our abilities is a necessity that we can master and much needed.

One challenge could be that we are unable to control our images and/or we may be using unproductive images that either stifle our growth or hinder our performances.

Once we create a plan of attack that recognizes (we might be using imagery voluntarily or involuntarily) we are actually in control of many of our thoughts, we then can use this plan and be own our way to success more consistently.

You can also learn more about High Performance Training right now at the below links:

Copyright © by Coach Shannyn,  All rights reserved

Blog 27: HPT 2 • Periodization

In this video, learn how to help athletes psychologically and physiologically consistently become ready to have their best athletic performances based on the annual plan.

Back in the 1950’s & 1960’s, the Soviet Bloc Russians and East Germans further developed Periodization to peak their athletes for the Olympic Games.  Shortly after this plan appeared to be highly effective, many of the nations inside the Iron Curtain and Eastern Europe began to emulate this type of training which is essentially training broken down into specific periods – ultimately for high performances in the Olympic Games.

The below excerpt is from the Blog Intro – High Performance Training and is a portion of the foundation for what many countries of the world, in various sports, use to train their National Teams.

“Most elite level sport programs have several training sessions per day and generally have a morning training session and another training session approximately 5 hours later. This time lag between practices allows the mind and body to fully recover and restore itself. Generally, prescribing 2 intense practices in a row is the rule while 3 intense sessions or practices in a row would be the exception. Again, the body and mind tend to recover optimally with alternating intensities and volumes during training sessions. If 3 intense sessions are planned, the next practice prescription could be a recovery session, a game, or an off session or half day.”

You can also learn more about High Performance Training right now at the below links:

Copyright © by Coach Shannyn,  All rights reserved

Blog 26: HPT-PST Day 3: Advanced Focus

Distractions are the enemy of success…  Learn how to eliminate bad calls, bad images, and other distractions that stop you from achieving your goals.  Focus helps you reach your potential by streamlining your ability to keep your eye on the prize of success.

The Psychological Skill of Focus, as the above video and intro point out, is one of the keys to successful execution of most physical & mental skills.  To be certain, what ever you focus on, you get.  To illustrate that point, here are 2 examples:

  • A referee gives you a bad call and you are unable to let that distraction go
  • A coach says something that upsets you and you are unable to let that distraction go

In both examples just given, you (or any athlete) has the power to concentrate on the tasks at hand i.e. primary goals and process to complete goal(s).  If the distractions are not “let go”, the distractions become the primary focal point (the new primary goal) and are likely to be the sole concentration point of you or any athlete – which makes it much more difficult to accomplish the original primary goal because the distractions interrupt the process of achieving or pursuing the original goal.

Letting go (which could be an entire video itself) is a way to re-focus on your main goal and not let any distraction affect you negatively.  To let go, in this case, means to ignore the distraction as if it did not occur.

The opposite of not letting go (again, in this case), is to let negative vibes, ideas, things distract you from your primary goals or tasks to be executed or completed.

In other words, the distraction itself (whatever it may be) becomes your focus, primary goal or task, & mission.  Many times, when the distraction becomes the new goal, athletes tend to become mentally & emotionally upset, off their game, or less motivated (or a combination of all…).

After listening to the above audio blog (and viewing Blog 9: PST: Focus), you may be better equipped to eliminate distractions during your performances.  I say ‘may’  because it is always your choice – which is largely based on your motivation to learn, develop, & grow using tools like this High Performance Training blog to master your emotions, mental state, & mind…

You can also learn more about High Performance Training right now at the below links:

Copyright © by Coach Shannyn,  All rights reserved