Coaching Wrestling maybe the most psychologically demanding coaching job. While success in all athletic endeavors requires competitors to develop a winning mental approach to competing there is something about the one on one physical nature of wrestling competition (or martial arts) that really requires mental toughness.
Of course freestyle wrestlers need to learn technique and develop strength and stamina, but more often than not the difference between being a champion and being a runner up is the mental edge of one wrestler over the other. Being a wrestling coach therefor requires you to help prepare your athletes mentally as well as physically.
Coaching Wrestling: The components
Coaching wrestling, as we already mentioned, involves learning to motivate and help develop the mental toughness necessary for that type of competition. It also involves teaching some basic and even more advanced wrestling techniques. You also have the responsibility, as a wrestling coach, of making sure your athletes are in the best condition they can be in.
Conditioning in wrestling deals with strength, stamina, and flexibility, but it also deals with managing weight. Wrestlers are often trying to "get down" to their wrestling weight and this can be a dangerous thing if not done properly.
Coaching Wrestling: The basic techniques
Currently, many of you coaching wrestling coach your wrestlers to employ about seven basic wrestling skills. The skills are categorized around the stance, motion, penetration step, back-step, level change, lift, and back-arch. There are other skills such as go behinds, tripod position, par terre defense, balance drills, set-ups, gymnastics, reverse lifts, sprawls, and neck exercises that are used as well.
In most cases, the expanded skills can be done as daily drills with a partner. All of the basic skills are can be incorporated into the expanded list of basic skills. The idea is to get those coaching wrestling to expand the core group of skills into daily workouts to increase and encourage applicable skill sets for matches and competitions for their wrestlers.
The skills increase coordination, flexibility and strength in skeletal muscles. Body control and or increased body coordination is critical for increased performance in wrestling and many other sports. These basic skills will help wrestling technique, tactics, and strategy if done daily.
These skills may also increase your endurance if done daily. Sprawling can be drilled via stance and motion drills. Sprawling is imperative for counter offense similar to go behinds. Par terre defense is essential because if no one can turn you, you have an advantage. Par terre defense can be drilled daily with a partner or as a shadow drill with commands from the wrestling coach.
The expanded basic skills should be done daily as a warm up for your mind and body, to reinforce fundamental skills, and enhance match and competition skill sets.
Coaching Wrestling: the stances
Two basic stances are the sugar foot stance and the basic wide stance.
Sugar Foot Stance
1) Place your dominant foot in front so you can be in a strong, balanced, and athletic position. Your stronger hand will now be in front and allow you to more effectively grab your opponent. Point the toes of your forward foot at your opponent. Your head, shoulder, elbow and knee should aligned with your front foot. This stance is a better attack position and gives you better forward and backward motion.
2)Your back foot should be at a 45-degree angle to your front foot.
3)Your arms should be in front and your head needs to be up with your eyes always focused on your opponent.
Basic Wide Stance
1) Place your feet about shoulder width apart and parallel. Your knees should be slightly bent. Your head, shoulder, elbow and knee should all be in a straight line with your foot. This stance gives you a strong base and good side-to-side motion.
2) Your back needs to be straight in order to help you stay balanced and ready for attacks from your opponent.
3)Keep your arms in front and your head up with your eyes on your opponent at all times.
With both stances always stay on your toes. Standing flat-footed will limit your mobility and allow your opponent to overpower you.
Coaching Wrestling: The Motion
1) Lead foot always goes first
2)If moving back your back foot goes first your lead foot follows.
3)Maintain strong protective position. Keep low, body flexed, and athletic.
Coaching Wrestling: The penetration step
1) Stay in good position - strong stance.
2) Change levels
3) Stay in motion
4)Pound with your back leg
5) Step forward with you lead leg
6) Drop to your knees and then come up immediately bringing the trail leg forward back into a good wrestling position. Remember, a) pound b) step c) drive d) come up immediately.
7) On the attack you are stepping forward into your opponent. Your lead foot steps with 4 or 5 inches of either of his feet, inside or outside of his feet, or right in the middle of his legs.
8) You want to finish in your feet.
1) Only use this if your opponent is coming toward you or he is leaning on you.
Watch this instructional video:
Coaching Wrestling: changing levels
Changing levels refers to wrestlers lowering or raising their hips to move their bodies in up and down. It takes a lot of practice for wrestlers to keep the correct body positioning when changing levels.
The keys to changing levels are:
1) Keep the head up.
2) Bend at the knees, not at the waist.
3) You raise and lower your hips while maintaining a solid wrestling position.
Knowing how to change levels properly helps a wrestler attack his or her opponent without breaking from a strong position.
Watch this video on motion and level change:
Coaching Wrestling: Lifting
Lifting is used to finish takedowns, set up pinning combinations, counter escapes, and counter takedowns.
Position is the key to lifting. Proper lifting technique uses the legs and hips not the upper body and back. By lowering your level and driving your hips underneath your opponent, you can easily lift him and take him down.
Coaching Wrestling: the back arch
The back-arch opens the way for perhaps the most exciting throws in wrestling.
The key to the back-arch.
1) You must not merely fall back and lift.
2) Tuck your hips under your opponent. The movement has to be quick and powerful. Your head should not even touch the mat.
3) Motion and level changes are necessary to set up the back-arch.
4) To be most effective your opponent must be pushing into you. When he is pushing into you simply lock up and pop the hips under your opponent's pressure.
Coaching Wrestling: Coaching Youth Wrestling
Most youth wrestling coaches were wrestlers and rightly so. We always believe to coach a sport well you should have been an athlete in that sport.
I also know that you can effectively coach a sport you never competed in with the right resources and if the children are at a young enough age. I personally was a competitive skier so I never played basketball competitively. I have been a successful youth basketball coach because I had the right resources.
Even as someone who has competed there is much more to coaching than have done the sport. That is where good instructional books and videos can be invaluable.
The American Sport Education Program offers outstanding courses on many sports, including on coaching wrestling. Some youth organizations will require their courses.
Programs by Steve Preston
Steve Preston is well respected with lots of experience coaching wrestling. We recommend two of his programs. Each offers something slightly different so you will want to check out each.
1) Offseason strength training workouts to build stronger, denser muscle that ‘carries over’ the next season!
2) The ‘Thrasher’ - my secret weapon program that has helped hundreds of wrestlers world-wide make a complete strength and conditioning transformation in one summer!
3) Preseason training programs to start building explosive speed!Inseason training programs to help you keep strength and speed while helping you prevent injuries!
4) Youth training programs - these are the programs that build dynasties. IMPORTANT: Don’t ever use high school or college programs with youth wrestlers... He’ll show you exactly what you SHOULD be doing!
5) Bodyweight training programs that can be done anywhere... and increase strength, power and conditioning at the same time!The 6 Minute Conditioning Program - This is one of the most revolutionary bodyweight training programs ever created for wrestlers. You can get any wrestler in great shape with no equipment and in only 6 minutes daily!
6) The Buffalo Strength Training System - This is the ultimate training program for developing pure strength in anybody.HIT for Wrestlers - High Intensity Training is one of the best ways to increase your wrestling strength and conditioning when you need to get in shape fast.
6) The Ultimate Running Program - This periodized running program is designed to get you into aerobic and anaerobic condition at the same time. This is a MUST program before the start of any wrestling season!
7) Year-Round programs to follow for each month of the year so you are always ‘diesel-strong’.
8) Workouts for skinny guys who need to add muscle and weight!...and so much more!!
This program also comes with a cookbook, nutritional book, and other bonuses. Our research has shown this to be an extremely effective program and well worth the investment. To learn more about this program Click Here!
His Ultimate Wrestling Strength program also offers the strength and conditioning and nutrition programs. The major difference with this package is it includes other coaching and training manuals. With either program you most definitely get a great return on your investment if you follow through with the program. To learn more about this program Click Here!
Coaching Wrestling: Teaching and Learning about Nutrition