The art of the glorious sport of the gods, wrestling, is a quest for perfection in technique that takes many painstaking hours of dedication to practice in the wrestling room, sweating it out on the mats and developing the skills needed to out-maneuver and outperform the competition. While not every meet or match will end in the favor of the wrestler, it is possible for the wrestler to win if they understand the importance of their understanding and drilling of the technique they need to improve on in order to round out their skill-set.
When it comes to youth wrestlers, especially youngsters, their excitement and enthusiasm might quickly get the better of them and they will want to learn everything, while taking the time to master nothing. It’s important to drill into them the basics and give them a solid understanding and appreciation for them and the importance of mastering them first before moving onto other, more complex moves.
So with that in mind, here’s a couple of drills that we think youth wrestlers should put their focus into. Once they are like second nature, think about incorporating in other movements.
Posture and stance.
In wrestling there are two sets of primary stances that form the foundation of everything to come. The staggered and square stances refer to the approach of the feet, hips and shoulders to the opponent. In both cases, the feet should be shoulder width apart, the knees bent, slightly over the toes, and the core engaged through the hip flexors and glutes, keeping the hips forward and the weight slightly over the front foot if in the staggered stance. The shoulders in line with the heels of your feet and back slightly rounded with a good control of your center of gravity. Keep your hands in front of you and your head up, with eyes on your opponent at all times.
Both variations of the takedown are needed and a good understanding and ability need to be developed on both sides of the wrestler, meaning the takedown with the lead from both the left and the right must be practiced. The single and double leg takedowns are both needed to be successful in a wrestling match and they should be drilled as such.
Lifting your opponent is as much an act of leverage as it is strength. Make sure you drill it and place emphasis on clasping your hands in a tight grip as you drive upward with your legs, not your back. This is an explosive movement that requires many hours of practice to understand how to use the leverage and strength of your body to execute the move correctly, avoiding the habit of slamming them to the floor, which is penalized in a competitive situation.
Pinning and escaping
Pinning is the end result that every wrestler wants to achieve. Drilling the half nelson is a great beginner pin that teaches the importance of leverage and strength to the wrestler. Escaping a situation that could lead to a pin is an art in itself and requires dedicated drilling. Begin with sweeps to the foot and consistent practice in these techniques will begin to develop the foundations of a well-rounded wrestler.
Off the mats
Nowadays it’s as important to take an early start on nutrition for youth wrestlers as well. Make sure that they are making good food choices and eliminating sugar and high-fructose corn syrup where ever possible. Other supplements such as vitamins and minerals as well immune system support and gut health are important to ensure that the developing wrestler stays healthy and ready to make the most out of every wrestling practice.