Austria Christmas Camp 2010 report
The USOEC freestyle wrestling team, 8 athletes and 1 coach plus Lock Haven University coach Terry Fike, participated in a training camp in Götzis, Austria December 10-20, 2010. This year, the camp included 52 wrestlers from 7 nations: Sweden, China, Germany, Austria, Norway, Italy, and USA. As in years past, most of the trip is captured digitally and this year you can ‘re-live’ the experience via photo galleries, music videos, technique demonstrations, and practice matches at our YouTube page.
Each year, I try different ways to convey the importance of traveling abroad for training, education, and communication and to disseminate what I learned from traveling. This is done mainly to inspire others to do similar things and build on the model that many Olympic sports use to strive towards excellence, perfection, and or to maximum potential. Some say brevity is clarity and below is an attempt to be concise, clear, and ‘edutaining’.
International training camps offer a lot of unique learning experiences like different training partners, different cultures, different languages, and different styles of wrestling. It dawned on me this year that most countries simply do not have a lot of women wrestlers (nor training partners) and camps are used to bring international masses together so everyone can grow, learn, and develop. The idea that countries are pooling their resources to maximize potential is one that can be used in many different areas and is if we take a closer look e.g. Olympic Games, Pan Am Games, World University Games. To me, training and competition can be used to maximize potential with the right mindset…and, everyone can learn, grow, and develop no matter what their location if they choose to. During these camps, the athletes learn from each other, the coaches, and probably learn a lot about themselves if they choose to.
Liuzzi Michele, the Italian coach, demonstrated an array of techniques to inside step and or inside trip your opponent while also emphasizing the reaction of the opponent as the key factor in the attack. In other words, the opponent will dictate which skill you execute based on how they defend the initial first attack and you (or the offensive person) must read what the opponent (or defense) is giving you to make the attack efficient, effective, and workable. Michele explained if the opponent does not react, option number one is used…if the opponent does react, option number 2 is used. This concept of reaction and decision making is one of the most important skills in wrestling, I believe, (and maybe life too) because if the right decision is made, you or the offensive person is more likely to succeed. Also, being able to read the situation in front of you and knowing what to do is similar to understanding a math problem and giving the right answer, reading a question and answering the right answer, and being aware of your situation (in this case) and making the right decision.
Vitaliy, the Ukrainian coach, is the resident coach at Ringsport or the Austrian Training Center we trained at and he demonstrated 3 techniques captured on video. All of the the techniques front head lock, cross-knee option, and leg in combo to gut wrench require the attacking athlete to read how the opponent reacts and then apply the technique that the opponent is giving them. Again, the idea or skill is twofold: first, you must know what to do; second, you must know when to do it. This is being pointed out again because most wrestling skills require technical proficiency, timing, and accurate application of skills based on what your opponent is giving you…and, it is up to you to know when, why, and how to execute the appropriate skills at the right time; knowing when, why, and how to execute all skills takes patience, time, practice (drilling, live situations, & live matches) and more of the same.
Austrian National Team Coach Bruno Hartmann was our host and director of all of the women’s camps that come to Austria. Team USA, senior and junior national teams, has been training at Ringsport for about 6 years now and the USOEC has taken part in training camps in Austria the last 3 years. Bruno also coached his daughter Nikola Hartmann to 5 senior level world championship gold medals (that’s right…Nikki is a 5 X World Champion). The techniques Bruno demonstrated included counter attacks to single legs and 2 on 1, underhook, and front head locks. He mentioned these techniques (2 on 1, underhook, and front head locks) were the top 3 set ups to attacks at the last world championships. There were several options shown and again the opponent will determine what skill should be executed based on reaction or non reaction to attacks.
Bruno also demonstrated coordination training (also known as cross training) as apart of his technique and there are 2 videos that display the wrestlers having fun while increasing their athletic ability. The first video is a description of what to do and the importance of this type of training. The second video is the athletes actually participating or doing the training. Coordination training, based on Bruno’s description, is teaching the mind/body to become a better athlete through various movements that require similar characteristics or movement patterns for wrestling; examples are explosive movements, balance drills, quick reaction drills, and circuit training exercises. Bruno brought this insight and technique from a FILA (international wrestling federation) clinic held in Spain prior this camp.
Terry Fike coaches the women’s team at Lock Haven University and was also a student assistant coach at LHU when yours truly was a competitive athlete and All-American for LHU. I have known Terry for over 20 years now and he is continuing to teach me ideas and concepts about the sport and life that are very helpful. For one, he explained to me that it may be good for a nation or any organization to horizontally develop (many groups in nation or organization) versus vertically develop (one group in nation or organization) so that very few people, if any, are left behind or develop a sense of elitism knowingly or unknowingly. Terry went on to explain how if one organization appears to be elitist in mindset, animosity may begin to grow and development may stop or be greatly hindered for all groups or organizations. My thoughts are on the attitudes of each group and how this can effect growth and development. Can an elitist mindset be healthy for anyone?
The Swedish coaches, Roy Persson, Mikael Pettersson, and Benny Englund, invited the USOEC team to train in Sweden sometime in the future stating that the Swedish athletes liked training with our athletes. This year, The Swedes brought their young 21 year old world champion Sofia Mattsson (also an Olympian & world bronze medallist). Sofia is a tough competitor and drills intensely like she may never drill again or like this is the most important skill she is learning…every single time she drills. I liked that and it was nice for our team to see. I also noticed she was an ‘eager beaver’ and open to learning when trying to discover just exactly how to execute a certain skill. Each time she did not understand a move or technique, she would politely ask whomever was teaching if this or that was right. Seeing her do this several times with a great attitude was impressive and probably is one of the reasons she is a world champ. Sofia Mattsson has a good attitude plus is open to coaching, learning, improving and it shows.
What was equally impressive was how or who the Swedes train with during training camps. I learned that Sweden, from north to south, is a very long country and is close to Russia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and of course Norway, Denmark, and Finland. Again, it dawned on me that the Swedes take full advantage (just like most European nations) of international training camps in Sweden and in Europe. I always wondered how some countries amazingly get real good in wrestling or have 1 or 2 wrestlers that seem to come out of no where…I no longer wonder. It appears that competing in international training camps as cadets (or 15-17 years of age) or earlier exposes wrestlers to different: countries, styles of wrestling, coaching; there were 13 year olds at this camp in Austria.
The mystery of China. The Chinese team came to wrestle and they really did organize their minds for the matches or any time we wrestled live. Terry also noticed when their coach walked around them, they immediately changed their body language and mind set from playful to serious in a matter of seconds. Perhaps, this Chinese team understood when their coach was watching them it was time to perform seriously. I can say with conviction when it was time to wrestle live, play time was over for the Chinese team whether their coach was watching or not! Even if these athletes gave up a point, which was rare, they did not flinch and stuck to their game plans. I admired this because staying focused in practice helps you or me stay focused during competition. That written, the Chinese were very playful and laughed a lot; this can be seen if you view any of the photos or videos I took with them and they took with me. This is the third camp I have been in with Chinese teams (1 in Colorado Springs, 1 in Marquette, MI).
Vienna, Vienna, Vienna! The last 2 days of the trip this year were spent in Vienna, Austria which is about 7 hours west of Götzis, Austria. During the 7 hour train ride from one end of Austria to the other, while many of our team was asleep, I took pictures of the Swiss Alps and talked to a student from Switzerland whose name escapes me at the moment…so she will be called the Swiss student. The Swiss student explained to me nowadays it was common for Europeans to speak English and to also take several (2-3) languages in high school. She went on to say many students in European school systems travel frequently and use the languages they have mastered or are trying to master during this travel. The Swiss student said she stayed in France (as apart of a high school exchange) for 3 months while learning French and generally students can get jobs through their high schools on foreign soil for extended stays like this one; for this trip, she lived and worked at a hotel. Most other shorter trips, the Swiss student told me, she would stay in hostels.
We actually stayed in a youth hostel the last 2 days of the trip. Youth hostels appear to be all over Europe for students to travel and learn about other parts of Europe. A Slovenian student who I ate with in the hostel cafeteria explained she and her school were traveling to Austria with chaperons for a week. The chaperons were school teachers and lead the class on several tours similar to what we were doing. The Slovenian seemed as eager to talk to me as I was to her…she was practicing her English and I was discovering the hostel culture. I liked this hostel especially because the heat worked exceptionally well, the internet was set up for Wi-Fi and free (it cost 10 Euros for 5 hours in Götzis, Austria), and it was walking distance to everything I took pictures of i.e. food, shopping, sight seeing, and more.
This year’s camp was a success again and next year, we plan to send another USA team to Austria and Terry has agreed to bring his Lock Haven University team.
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