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3 Basic Wrestling Drills With Mike Malinconico

3 Basic Wrestling Drills With Mike Malinconico


In order to get better at wrestling, there are foundational skills that must be developed. To do this, you must spend time in practice working on and drilling specific things to help develop them; they do not develop by accident. Many of these basic skills are so important that even the top wrestlers in the world work on them everyday in practice. Although there are many different foundational skills and drills, here are three that you can start to incorporate into your training immediately.

Stance and Motion

Having a good wrestling stance and being able to move around in it is the number one foundational skill that all wrestlers need to learn. If you have a bad stance, it is very difficult to take shots and score and it is really difficult to defend shots as well. Having a good wrestling stance is what all good offense and defense stems from. That is why even world champions take time to work on their stance everyday. 

In wrestling, no two individuals’ stances will be identical based on body type and also the type of offense and defense a wrestlers likes to use, but there are some basic principles to a wrestling stance that all wrestlers should follow. 

First is to bend at the knees and the waist. You generate your power from this position. If you stand with straight legs, you have no power when you take a shot, and it is very difficult to defend a shot because you can’t get your legs back. Pay attention to Mike’s position when he gets down in a stance. Bent knees and waist also allow you to lower you level properly; it is virtually impossible to lower your level if you legs are straight.

Another thing you need to pay attention to while in a stance is to keep your weight on the front of your feet, not back on your heels. This helps you to be able to create motion and have quick feet while wrestling. Being able to create motion in a stance is key. When you stop moving and become flat footed, it is very difficult to create offense and you open yourself up to being taken down very easily. 

In the video, Mike talks about making first contact using his head and hands. This is another important aspect to stance work. If you walk straight into your opponent reaching with your hands up, you have just created a huge opening for your opponent to shoot on you. So when you are moving around in your stance, be sure to visualize and practice making first contact the right way. 

Lastly, while you are in your stance, be sure to practice moving in all directions: front to back, side to side, circling, and even lowering your level. Pay attention to how close your feet are to each other and focus on moving smooth. The more your move around in your stance, the more natural it feels. 

Hip Heist

Just like a wrestler needs to be able to move around properly on their feet, a wrestler also needs to be able to move around properly while on the mat. One of the ways to do this is to develop the skill of being able to hit a quick and explosive hip heist. 

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A hip heist is a quick switch of the hips. One of the most common places you see it happen is when a wrestler is on the mat in a sit out position, then quickly switches their hips and turns and faces their opponent looking for the escape. 

In the video, Mike goes over a couple different variations of a hip heist drill. He shows a basic one that just involves straddling a line on the mat, making sure when you hip heist, even though you are facing the other direction, you are still straddling the line. The next one he shows is hip heisting with your head against the wall. This really mimics using a hip heist to escape after you have just hit a stand up. The last variation he showed is done with a partner holding the other guy’s head up and hip heisting from there. This last variation is the most advanced and should only be drilled if you have the first two drill down.

Body Lifts

In wrestling, you need to develop physical strength, and while it is important to spend time in the weightroom, you can develop a lot of functional strength by doing buddy or partner lifts and carries. Carrying your partner really helps to increase grip strength, develop the pulling muscles of the arms and back, core and stabilization muscles, and leg strength. There are so many variations of different partner lifts and carries you can do. Most wrestlers, even at the highest levels of the sport, utilize partner body lifts to help increase strength. 

By taking time to work on these three drills, you can really increase your foundational wrestling skills. The better you get at your stance and motion, the better your offense and defense will be. You will get more takedowns and get taken down less. The better you get at hip heist, the better you will be while wrestling down on the mat. You will start to be able to utilize the hip heist to earn easier escapes. If you stay consistent with the body lifts, you will notice an increase in strength out on the mat. It will become easier to keep hold of a leg and pull it in, or lift you opponent to return them to the mat. All of these drills develop skills that will have a direct positive impact to your wrestling. 

Be sure to check out Mike’s four part video series titled “The Ultimate Folkstyle Coaches Manual by Mike Malinconico”. In the video series, he goes over stance, motion, level changes, stand ups, snap downs, weight cutting, and so much more.