Want To Get Better? Start Drilling More
Drilling is a vitally important part of getting better at wrestling; practicing moves over and over with proper technique so in the moment, there is no thinking, there is only reaction. There is a great quote by Saulo Ribeiro that goes “If you think, you're late. If you're late, you muscle. If you muscle, you're tired. If you're tired you die. You die when you tap. We die everyday". So to avoid thinking, you need to ingrain the proper sequence of movements into your brain and this is done by drilling...a lot of drilling.
The reason that you need to drill movements over and over is because your brain and nervous system are literally creating and refining neurologic pathways so when the time comes, there is no thinking, there is only doing. This is kind of like if you move to a brand new city and you have to learn the best routes to take to get to the grocery store or your new job. Eventually you will find the quickest and most efficient route to wherever you are going in your new city. So by drilling a movement over and over, you are essentially creating muscle memory of the best way to do the movement most efficiently.
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In the realm of drilling, reps are king. The more reps you have, the better you will be. That is why it is so important to drill quickly and get as many reps as possible. The more reps you have done in drilling, the less thinking there will be during a match. Because of this, all time spent on the mat practicing is not equal.
Imagine this, you are drilling double-leg takedowns. Your coach gives you one minute to drill as many as possible. When the time starts, you have to decide how fast you are going to move and thus determine how many reps you get in that minute. If you move fast and are intentional about getting a lot of reps, you may hit 18 double-legs in that minute, but if you aren’t intentional and are just going through the motions, you many only end up doing 9 double-legs. That is a 50% reduction! Now imagine a 50% reduction in overall reps in one year’s time. That can be a HUGE number. Who do you think is going to be better a double-legs? The guy who has hit 5,000 or the guy who has hit 10,000? Drilling quickly and efficiently to get the most reps in during the allotted time matters big time.
The other important part of maximizing reps during drilling is that it helps to set your baseline work rate higher both mentally and physically. During a competition, you will become less tired physically and mentally than your opponent due to the fact that your body and mind have been trained to work at a fast pace even when you are tired, and when you outwork your opponent, when you set a fast pace and when your opponent can’t keep up, good things happen for you.
Drilling is not always fun and many seem boring or tedious at times, but it is so important if you want to get better and attain your goals. The trap many fall into is to always just do live goes because that's what’s most fun, but if you really want to get better, drilling with proper technique and getting your reps in is a must. Also, be diligent when drilling, not every drill needs to be an all out sprint especially when first learning a new move. Quality is just as important as quantity. Stay after practice and drill moves that you aren’t good at so when you are in a match, you don’t have to think about what to do, but rather your response will be automatic. Look at the big picture, the more reps you have done the better you will be.
To learn more awesome wrestling drills check out “The Ultimate Folkstyle Coaches Manual” by Mike Malinconico or any other of the amazing technique videos from Fanatic Wrestling.