Kyle Dake Breaks Down Stance And First Contact
In this video, four time NCAA National Champion and 2018 World Champion Kyle Dake explains the importance of proper position in a wrestling stance, the best way to make first contact with your opponent, and common mistakes that wrestlers at all levels make.
Here are some of the key points he focused on.
The first point that Dake makes is your level; how high are you compared to your opponent? When you are wrestling, being lower than your opponent is very important because it not only puts you in a better attacking position, but also makes it more difficult for your opponent to shoot and score on you because if you are lower than them, they have a further distance to travel when taking a shot. This gives you more reaction time when they shoot, which helps to increase your chances to defend the attack successfully.
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In terms of offense, being lower than you opponent, even if it’s a small amount, is a huge advantage. The first line of defense for a wrestler is there head and hands, and to get in on a shot you either have to catch an angle on your opponent and go around their head and hands, or you have to lower your level and go under. So by starting in a stance that is lower than your opponent’s, you already have the upper hand in terms of position when the match begins.
In addition to having a low stance level, when in a wrestling stance, it is important to have the proper amount of bend in your legs and hips. Very often, inexperienced wrestlers or even seasoned wrestlers who are tired allow their legs to straighten. This is a bad position; legs straight, butt up, head down. Not only is it almost impossible to attack from this position, but it is very difficult to defend against attacks as well. It causes you to be flat footed with all your weight shifted to the front making it easy for your opponent to snap you down or shoot in for a leg.
Instead of being straight legged, focus on bending at the knees and waist, keeping your hips under you, and not rounding your back. This helps to put you in a better position to move your feet and defend shots. It also allows you to recruit some of the strongest muscles in your body, your hamstrings and glutes, when you’re taking shots and attacking.
Another key point that Dake talked about was the first point of contact when engaging your opponent. It is very common to see a wrestler reach up for the head or to arm first. This can expose you and create space for your opponent to attack your legs. So to avoid this, Dake likes to first make contact with his head to his opponent’s head and attack wrists first. Once he has made initial contact, he then likes to attack higher up. Another advantage to making first contact with the head is you can use it to feel your opponent changing level for a shot and you can use your head to down block and defend against it.
The last point Dake makes in the video is the importance of drilling with intention. How you drill in practice is how you perform out on the mat during a competition. So when you drill, be sure that you starting in a good stance: split legs, level low, knees and hips bent, and back flat. Also, don’t just reach for your partner when you drill, this creates bad habits. Whether you are a beginner or on the U.S. Men’s National Team, you need to be working on your stance in practice. It is the small details like stance work that help give you an edge over your competition.
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