Building a Wrestling Foundation

Posted on Nov 14, 2010 in Practices, Technique, Wrestlers

When teaching kids how to wrestle our main goal is building a solid foundation that will enable them to grow and become more competitive as they graduate to new levels of competition. That may sound self-evident at first but there are many competing goals a coach can face while developing young wrestlers. To ensure we stay focused, our teaching addresses fundamental concepts in three areas – mental, physical, technical.

Mental – If young wrestlers are going to stay with the sport and continue to improve, they must develop the right attitude and perspective. One of the essential lessons here is defining success. Success for young wrestlers is about a lot more than winning and losing. If they learn to evaluate their performance based on a number of criteria including preparation, effort, attitude, and match results, they will find more opportunities for success and have a road map for continual improvement.

Physical  – Given that wrestling is such a physical sport, there is a lot of room to get off track in this area of a young wrestler’s development. While strength, balance and flexibility are important qualities for every wrestler, we choose to focus on body awareness and essential skills as they way to develop them. Basic tumbling exercised are great for teaching kids body awareness. Every young wrestler should spend a lot of time on drills and exercises that teach essential skills like stance, motion, level change, penetration, lifting, back steps , and arching/bridging. These skills are the building blocks for great wrestling.

Technical  – There is no more important element of technique to teach young wrestlers than proper body position. If they can gain and understanding of solid position on their feet, from bottom and on top, they will consistently score more, defend better and pick up new techniques faster. When it comes to actual holds and scoring moves, we believe in teaching a core set that may take a little time to master but have been proven effective at all levels of wrestling. From the nuetral position we focus on snap downs, sprawls and leg attacks. From bottom we emphasize establishing a good base and using a stand up to escape. On top we practice tightwaist rides and breakdowns with half nelson pinning combinations.

Of course, flexibility in coaching a team or individual wrestler is always important. This philosophy provides a framework that allows flexibility but helps us stay consistent in helping young wrestlers succeed for the long run.