WYC 069 – Wrestling with Character – Robert Murphy talks developmental stages in the Passion First Academy


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Robert Murphy works in sales by day, and has started a booming wrestling program by night.  Robert was a collegiate champion in wrestling, and has combined his knowledge with his passion to help kids to form Wrestling With Character – a program that provides young athletes the opportunity to grow as individuals by experiencing life lessons through the martial art of wrestling in conjunction with their Six Pillars of Character Curriculum.

Website: wrestlingwithcharacter.com

Facebook: /wrestlingwithcharacter

Twitter: @wwc365

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”Wrestling at young ages without training is like human cock-fighting. It’s child abuse.’ – Robert Murphy

Coaching your own kids

  • It’s really hard as a parent to watch your child struggle, cry, and have difficulties – but we have to allow them to go through this so they can grow.

My Cringe & ‘Ah-Ha’ Moments

  • It’s not about me – ‘I’ve got to focus on developing the kids, not on satisfying my ego’

Developmental stages

  • Reference to previous guest episode Melody Shuman: link
  • ‘Wrestling at young ages without training is like human cock-fighting. It’s child abuse.’ This leads to huge turnover and burnout.
  • Need to change the environment of having kids go to a few practices then throwing them into tournaments


  • Passion First wrestling academy – based on developmental stages. Kids graduate from levels by testing out of levels. Instead of belt colors (like in Karate), they have shirt colors. When they are ready to master a skill, they test on it, and move on to the next level after passing the test.
  • Each individual’s experience matters. The kids ‘in the middle’ in many sports are the ones who get left behind.

Connecting with and Impacting Kids

  • Robert coached a kid who reminded him of himself in high school – a bit of a loose cannon. He didn’t try to change him overnight – just supported him and believed in him.
  • Don’t try to compare athletes – ‘I want Joe to be the best Joe’

Culture – Discipline/Rewards/Teambuilding

  • 6 Pillars of Character:
    • Respect
    • Attitude
    • Passion
    • Integrity
    • Discipline
    • Honesty
  • Steel Sharpens Steel – We all need each other to make each other better

Best Stolen Idea

  • Coach Mike Denney – Taught Robert the importance of character and creating a family environment. He lived it too – re recruited Robert out of high school, and Robert chose to go to his rival – and yet every time he saw him he always came over and shook his hand and said hi.

Recommended Resources

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