The Fundamentals Of Wrestling On Your Feet
If you are serious about becoming a great wrestler, you must focus on the fundamentals. There are a lot of crazy moves and techniques out there, but when you watch high level wrestling, the guys that are out there winning NCAA titles and Olympic gold medals are the ones whose wrestling stems from solid fundamental technique. Every once and a while you will see a crazy move, but in reality, you mostly see guys staying a great position, hand fighting without opening themselves up to being scored on, and guys not putting themselves in a bad position when they attack.
No matter what level you wrestle at, it is always beneficial to go back and reevaluate and work on your fundamentals, especially if you feel that you are stuck in a plateau.
Stance and First Contact
One of the first things you need to make sure you have down is a good stance. Your wrestling stance is so important because you cannot have good offense or defense if you have a bad wrestling stance. Here are a couple of key points when evaluating your wrestling stance. First, look at your level. You need to have the correct amount of bend at the knees and hips. If you are too tall, you will be more open for your opponent to shoot in and attack your legs. If you level is too low, you may get snapped down a lot and it can be difficult to generate the power necessary to hit shots.
The next thing to look at is your back and neck. You want your back to be flat, not rounded. When you back is flat, that means you are properly recruiting the powerful muscles of your posterior chain like your hamstrings, glutes, and gastrocnemius. These are the muscle you need to shoot explosive and powerful shots. If you back is rounded, it means you are relying heavily on your anterior chain muscles like you quads, which is not ideal. Plus, if you back is rounded, when you shoot, your head will most likely go down instead of up. Another thing to look at is your neck. Make sure you aren’t sticking your head out too far. Keep it pulled back so it is more difficult for your opponent to snap you down.
Lastly, when you are in your stance, what are you doing with your arms and hands? Make sure you hands are out in front and your elbows are in. Also, how are you making first contact with your opponent? You should not be reaching because that opens you up to getting shot on.
Check out this video by four time NCAA champion and world champion Kyle Dake where he goes in depth explaining proper stance and first contact.
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Another aspect to look at is what type of tie ups are you using? If you are always getting into an ear to ear collar tie position, you really need to change up the way you are wrestling. There are a lot of really great tie ups you can use that put you in an advantage in terms of position. One of the best is an underhook because it gives you inside position which puts you in a great position to score and it also makes it more difficult for you opponent to score on you. Check out this video by Chael Sonnen where he shows the basics of an underhook and the different shots that are available from there.
Another great way to tie your opponent up is with a two on one which is also called a Russian tie. The offensive possibilities are pretty much endless from this position. You can hit double legs, single legs, throws, snap downs, and carries from a Russian tie. Check out some of these great videos to brush up on your Russian tie technique. Adam Wheeler has you covered!
Another area of wrestling where you need to be great technique is with finishing your shots, especially as you start to compete at higher levels as it becomes more and more difficult to actually finish a shot even if you are in on your opponent’s legs.
When you are trying to finish a shot, make sure you are staying in good position with your hips under you and your head up. Also, make sure you are constantly moving. As soon as you stop driving and moving your opponent, they will be able to start to work their defense.
Check out this video by Dan Vallimont where he shows the proper way to finish a high crotch.
Another fundamental skill that is often over looked, is finishing shots after your opponent has sprawled on you. This having the ability to still score from a single leg when down on the mat is extremely valuable. Here is a great video by Ed Ruth where he shows his favorite ways to finish shots when he is down on the mat.
You are never too good to work on your fundamentals. In fact, most top level wrestlers work on things like stance, hand fighting, and finishing shots every practice and most will tell you that is how they came to be so good.
If you would like to learn more about the fundamentals of wrestling, be sure to check out “Wrestling Fundamentals From The Bad Guy by Chael Sonnen”. In this video series, Chael goes over the fundamental moves and techniques that all wrestlers should know.