Wrestling Popularity on the Rise | Youth1

Wrestling Popularity on the Rise

The popularity of the sport of wrestling is one the rise. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) 2018-2019 High School Participation Survey, the port of wrestling has grown in all five categories that were reported on. 


This is the second consecutive year that high school wrestling has grown in all categories while the overall participation in high school sports has declined, the first overall decline in 30 years. 


The biggest jump in this year’s survey was within girls wrestling which grew for the 30th straight year. There were 21,124 girls participants in 2018-19, an increase of 4,562 athletes from the year before, which accounts for a 27.5% increase from last year. The number of schools that also offer girls wrestling increased to 2,890, an increase of 22.9%. 


Boys high school wrestling held steady as the No. 7 most popular sport among boys in terms of participation and the No. 8 spot in terms of number of schools.  


In 2018-19, boys high school wrestling grew to 247,441 athletes, an increase of 1,877 athletes from last year. The number of boys wrestling teams for 2018-19 grew to 10,843, up 68 teams from the previous year. It’s the second straight year that boys wrestling grew in both participation and teams.


The combined number of high school wrestlers, including both boys and girls, showed a 2.5% growth as it grew to 268,565, an increase of 6,439 athletes.


The top 10 states for boys wrestling participation are: 1. California (22,602); 2. Illinois (14,170); 3. New York (11,184); 4. Texas (10,998); 5. Ohio (10,313); 6. New Jersey (9,648); 7. Pennsylvania (9,460); 8. Washington (9,251); 9. Michigan (9,167); 10. Minnesota (8,058)


The top 10 states for girls wrestling participation, from states that report to the NFHS, are: 1. California (6,014); 2. Texas (4,421); 3. Washington (1,864); 4. Missouri (956); 5. Illinois (676); 6. Hawaii (620); 7. Oregon (597); 8. Arizona (481); 9. New Jersey (477); 10. Florida (475)


Note: These states don't report their girls high school wrestling statistics: Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, West Virginia, Wisconsin 





1. Football - 11-player, 1,006,013

2. Track and Field - Outdoor, 605,354

3. Basketball, 540,769

4. Baseball, 482,740

5. Soccer, 459,077

6. Cross Country, 269,295

7. Wrestling, 247,441

8. Tennis, 159,314

9. Golf, 143,200

10. Swimming and Diving, 136,638



1. Basketball, 18,617

2. Track and Field - Outdoor, 17,052

3. Baseball, 16,170

4. Cross Country, 15,632

5. Football - 11-player, 14,247

6. Golf, 13,590

7. Soccer, 12,552

8. Wrestling, 10,843

9. Tennis, 9,809

10. Swimming and Diving, 7,704


The complete 2018-19 High School Athletics Participation Survey is available by clicking here



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