Learn the Penetration Step and Develop Your Shot with Adam Wheeler
The shot is arguably the most fundamental aspect of wrestling. Just like knowing how to dribble is paramount for basketball or learning to catch for baseball, picking up shooting skills is the one technique that can make or break your wrestling career. Pick up the movement and you’ll be able to modify it for your style. Disregard the move completely and you’ll be left wondering why your peers are standing on the podium while you’re standing in the bleachers. Yet learning how to shoot should not be done by just any coach. You need someone who can break the move down to its anatomical components without being too confusing.
It’s time to take shooting lessons from one of the best. To go into deeper detail about the penetration step, Olympic bronze medalist Adam Wheeler explains how to perform the technique in the video below.
Before implementing the actual movement, the first thing you need to consider with your shot is your stance. In wrestling, there are two standard stances: square and staggered. A square stance involves your feet being shoulder width apart with your toes lined up laterally. This is more so a defensive posture, as the even footing allows for a quick sprawl and keeps your legs equidistant from each other. The staggered stance has one foot in front of the other approximately 6-8 inches but shoulder width apart. This is the stance you’ll be using for your shot, as it makes it much quicker for the technique as opposed to the square stance. Although these stances are a broad generalization (stances can vary in posture and hand placement), the consensus is to have your knees bent, back straight, and hands at a medium length from the body.
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Wheeler points out the importance of changing your level in the video by explaining how “you can’t just shoot from a ‘standing up straight’ position.” It makes sense from an anatomical perspective. Imagine trying to pick something up from the ground from standing straight versus with bent knees; the latter will always be quicker, just like shooting with a level change is quicker than simply stepping across. The purpose of doing the level change is to get lower than your opponent’s center of gravity, as Wheeler explains. Staying above that center of gravity means facing their full strength while staying below it means compromising their base.
The crux of the movement comes from the penetration step, or breaking through your opponent’s defensive posture. After hitting the level change, your lead leg will drop down to the mat knee first. This goes back to the staggered stance being the quicker option because of your proximity to your opponent’s legs. Where you drop your knee in relation to your opponent’s stance will depend on what type of takedown you’re going for, such as the double leg or single leg. The trail leg sweeps around to the front to continue the motion, essentially replacing the lead leg at the front of your stance. There’s an easy way to remember this sequence: knee bend, knee drop, replace.
Wrestling without shooting is akin to driving without wheels: getting you nowhere. Adam Wheeler’s penetration step video is a vital resource for learning how to shoot effectively as you go through your wrestling career. Practice it every day and watch as your shot becomes your most important tool.
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