Want To Be A Better Wrestler??
Alright guys, wrestling season 2019-2020 is creeping up on us. We’re already in September and depending on your program, experience level, or club affiliation you may have already started some type of preseason workouts to begin preparing for what you’re confident will be your best season yet. Some questions you may want to ask yourself though are, what have I done to make my weaknesses better? Whether it be a strength, endurance, or technique weakness someone will find and exploit it if you don’t. If you do not feel like you struggle in any of those areas you’re probably wrong, let’s be honest here.
The first step to bettering ourselves on the mat is admitting that we have an issue somewhere in our game that needs fixed. In this blog we’ll cover some simple yet very effective ways to up your game. These are things that even the guys and gals at the highest levels of the sport do so there has to be some validity in it, right? Let’s dig in and get to work!
Practice! (Obviously, Right?)
We’re always told that the more time we spend practicing the better we are bound to get, and there is some truth to that. However, hard practice with no direction or purpose will just render you sore with minimal improvement. The first step to making the practice step work is to, as I stated earlier, identify your weaknesses. If you aren’t sure what those are for whatever reason, sit down with your coach, I’m sure they can help you pinpoint a couple things to work on. Say that it is your bottom wrestling that you need to work on, so identifying the issue is checked off our list.
Now, identify what your goal or goals are. Typically as the bottom wrestler you have two or three goals: 1. Don’t give up a turn, 2. Control your opponent’s grips and keep your hips away from them to escape, or 3. Work some variation of grips and movement for a reversal. The last two of these goals all depend on the situation and what fits your unique style. Do bad position drills where you start on bottom. This is going to force you to start piecing things together in a live scenario. There are many solo drills you can do as well on the rare occasion that you do not have a partner handy.
Address Mental And Physical Toughness
Okay, this one can get a little bit tricky. Some of the kids you coach, or even if you are reading for yourself, are born with mental and/or physical toughness, it just seems to occur naturally like it pumps through their veins. For those of you on the contrary side of that, there are ways, so don’t you dare feel discouraged. Mental toughness is very subtle, it is knowing when to stop yourself from eating too much to make weight, knowing that pushing the extra mile in practice will pay dividends in the long run, and knowing that no matter how bad practice may have sucked, you are a little bit better for it.
Mental toughness really does go hand-in-hand with discipline, the more disciplined you allow yourself and your approach to wrestling become, the more solid your mental fortress becomes. Accept some of the soreness, the late nights and early mornings, the long rides, it is all part of the process, and just on the other side of that lies everything you’ve ever wanted.
Physical toughness follows much in the same route, some are born with it and some must develop it. If you have it, great, proceed to the next step, if you don’t, no need to worry, there is hope. One thing I try to get my wrestlers and even some of the adults I coach to understand is this, wrestling isn’t always the most comfortable sport, there are some things about it that just flat out suck and all we can do is deal with them as they come. What I find easiest to do is find the thing that motivates them to do better the most and typically my response is this: You’ll never get it unless you accept the fact that you’re going to be uncomfortable along the way, sometimes you just got to tough it out.
Usually, I’ve found that kids will see this as a direct challenge to try and go above and beyond, that is the response we are looking for. If it isn’t the one we get, no need to worry, it has resonated in their mind all the same, and typically they just need a bit more sideline coaching in the meantime.
Watching videos of your past competitions is a great way to identify both the things you do well and the things you need to work on. Whether you won or lost there is always something that can be learned. If you watch the video and think, MAN! I have a really good head inside single leg, maybe your goal should be to find more ways to set up and get to that head inside single leg. If you watch the video and think, MAN! I really need to start trying to score more from the front headlock position, then maybe your goal should be to brush up on the front headlock and focus on the technical details that will allow you more chances to go behind and score, shuck by and score, roll and score, or if in the standing position, maybe even transition back to your single leg and score.
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Another good thing to add to your learning, is watching videos of other high level wrestlers who do what you like to do, or who do well what you want to get better at. For instance, maybe your shot defense and hand defense is absolutely atrocious. Here at Fanatic Wrestling we offer a DVD with 4x NCAA champ and the current freestyle world representative at 79 Kilograms Kyle Dake entitled “Defense Wins Championships” that may be the answer to all of your problems. Here at Fanatic Wrestling we offer numerous high level technique videos covering a variety of topic and positions so after reading this blog, make sure to give the store a browse.
Wrestle Or Play Other Sports Year Round
This one is going to go back to what I said earlier, the more time you spend on the mat, the better your wrestling is bound to get. I have a very biased opinion saying that kids should wrestle year round, but I’m also realistic, kids, and most people for that matter, have other interests outside of wrestling. I’ve coached kids that play football, soccer, that run track, and do gymnastics, but the cool thing is this, all of those things in some way shape or form can help your wrestling and vice versa. Wrestling is probably the most physically demanding of any high school or collegiate level sport you’ll ever do, and knowing that should make you confident in your work ethic to excel at any other sport you choose. Doing any others listed above help minor qualities like strength, speed, flexibility, reaction time, among others, that also benefit your wrestling in numerous ways. When it comes to this, I say you can’t go wrong. If you choose to wrestle year round, great, if not, stay active and think of how what you’re doing is going to benefit your wrestling somehow.
Resistance Training And Recovery
I’ve met many an athlete that absolutely loathes any kind of weight or resistance training, but you are selling yourself short if you don’t. Other than getting muscles and looking good in a singlet there are quite a few benefits to a well-designed resistance training program. A good strength and conditioning program will get you stronger, improve your endurance, aid your flexibility, and here is the real kicker, it’ll actually decrease your chances of getting injured. During a resistance training session, our joints undergo a lot of impact, stretching, and contraction, which is all normal and safe given that you use proper technique. What this does over time is makes our joints, muscles, bones, and ligaments stronger and able to withstand greater amounts of pressure, thus decreasing the likelihood that they ever get hurt. So if you hate lifting weights, or hate doing battle ropes and wall balls and things of that sort keep in mind one thing, you’re making your body tougher and harder by doing so, so keep going.
Being A Good Teammate
Most people think that being a good wrestler or a good athlete in general relies solely on your athletic prowess and winning ability, well they’re wrong. Being a better wrestler can be done in many ways, and one of them is definitely leading by example. If you want your teammates to push the pace in practice more or if you want something done a certain way, or even if you want your team to be known as a class act and a pleasure to host, start by leading by example. Let everyone see that you are pushing the pace, that you are mopping after practice, that you are shaking hands with opponents win or lose and not throwing tantrums, and that you are picking up your food and drink trash after tournaments and dual meets. Another way is to help your struggling teammates. If they are struggling when practice gets tough to keep going, cheer them on, chant for them, and give them support to keep going. Let all your teammates know that you have their back. Even off the mat, if you see a teammate struggling in a class that you typically do pretty well in, offer them a hand. Set up a time to study together or with a tutor together even. If you see a teammate getting bullied or picked on in school for whatever reason, speak up for them, show them they’ve got your support. Teammates don’t let teammates fail, quit, walk out, or get bullied, wrestling is a brotherhood, never forget that.
I know we covered a lot of ways in this blog to up your game, but my goal was to show that they are basic and seemingly limitless. Being a better wrestler does take a lot of time and hard work, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be an extremely complicated process. In my opinion, one of the best ways that you can be a better wrestler, in a nutshell of course is to be attentive, pay attention to the small details (SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF) and always lead by example. For those of you reading this, I hope this was worth your time and that some of the tips and tricks I gave will help you on your quest toward an even better season. Here at Fanatic Wrestling, we have a plethora of resources to help you experiment with new pieces of your game, and to solidify the one you already have so don’t forget to visit our store. Till next time, Fanatics!
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