Blog 18: Cutting weight

Why do wrestlers and other weight class sports cut weight?  The answer could be to gain a strength advantage.  In this video, learn how to maintain your weight consistently while strengthening your skills.

Some say weight class sport athletes (wrestling, judo, MMA, boxing, weight lifting, etc.) cut weight to gain a physical strength advantage.  It has been proven that athletes can also gain a physical strength advantage with a very effective diet and a mastery of sport specific skills plus sport psychology.

The mind is generally what drives all of our decisions and I argue strongly that many weight class sport athletes first need to believe that going up a weight class as they grow is okay – if the protocols outlined in this blog are implemented.  It must be re-emphasized that coaches, athletes, & parents must, at the very least, understand that time spent on mastering & applying the basics of sport and mind plus strength & conditioning will assist athletes growth & development.

To be certain, strength plays a large factor in growth & development of the mind, muscles, & wrestling technique.  Wrestlers do have the ability to get stronger mentally & physically if they are willing to put in the smart effort (these blogs will help).  When wrestlers get stronger mentally & physically, wrestling technique actually becomes more effective and the ceiling of potential is much higher.

That written, and to again emphasize the other factors that will help most athletes grow into different weight classes, we all must remind ourselves that the variable that allows most people to get stronger in most endeavors starts with the mind (belief).

You can also learn more about High Performance Training right now at the below links:

Copyright © by Coach Shannyn,  All rights reserved

Blog 17: High Performance Training II DAY 3: Recovery

In this video, learn about one of the most important concepts of periodization and how to implement breaks in training and throughout a Long Term Athlete Development plan.

Excerpt from Coaching wrestling in the 21st century

The transition phase, in a periodization of training model, is a break or decrease from training volume from season to season in a manner that helps athletes grow, develop, and recover. The end of a training month (or mesocycle) generally has a recovery week and a recovery week is also designed to decrease training volume to help athletes grow, develop, and recover. Breaks in between bouts of wrestling competitions or training are also a decrease in volume of work and also help athletes grow, develop, and recover. Recovery is one of the secrets of training that often gets overlooked (to the demise of many coaches and athletes) so we will spend some time describing this very important concept.

One of the components of anabolic steroids, which is sometimes used as an illegal performance enhancing drug, was the very quick recovery time it allowed its illegal abusers. To be clear, anabolic steroids are illegal PEDs, and, I am not endorsing nor recommending anyone use them and my point is to show you how important recovery is. Because illegal steroids allowed its abusers to recover quickly, it also allowed them to train more and have more good to great practices. This accumulation of training hours gave anabolic steroid abusers an illegal advantage because it was like they had trained twice or three times as much as non-anabolic steroid users. Can you imagine what type of an advantage 2-3 times the amount of training (designed by sport scientists, medical doctors & high performance training coaches) would give anyone?

One of the byproducts of training is fatigue (fitness fatigue theory). Recovery time allows our bodies to recuperate, relax, and re-build so that the training can be optimally realized The process of daily recovery generally takes about 5-24 hours and involves eating at least 3 nutritious meals per day (plus re-hydrating), sleeping for 8-10 hours per day, and letting the body naturally get back to its homeostasis or normal state. When athletes recover properly, they can actually do more work again till they are tired and need another break. This cycle of work, rest, recovery is normal and happens in all parts of life. Have you ever read a book for more than 3 hours in a row or written a paper for more than 3 hours in a row with no breaks? If so, how did you feel during and after those work bouts? And, did your quality of work start to diminish? The body needs intermittent breaks to adequately and consistently perform at high levels in sport, life, and everywhere else.

So how can you as coach design great recovery plans?

You can design great recovery plans by thoroughly understanding & applying each phase of a periodization of training model i.e. pre-competition phase, competition phase, & transition phase. That seems simple and sometimes the balance of each phase gets unbalanced. In other words, one phase of the season may not support the other and under-recovery (overtraining) or burnout or injuries or quitting may happen with the athletes. To balance each phase, coaches should keep in mind LTAD and really understand what each phase could look like.

Another concept for designing great recovery plans is utilizing the fitness fatigue theory. This theory suggests 2 things happen when any athlete trains: they get fit and they get fatigued. So, every athlete must have time to recover in order to optimally realize the fitness just gained after training. If athletes are allowed adequate time to recover (generally 5-24 hours) they will be more ready for the next workout or training session. Given enough recovery time via a recovery week (when the volume of training is reduced for entire week), athletes will actually supercompensate or be more fit than they were before the start of the mesocycle and recovery week. In other words, when athletes are in the middle of a training block or mesocycle, they are more fatigued because the volume of training is increasing. Athletes will optimally realize fitness training and be more in shape after a recovery week when the fatigue declines faster than the fitness declines due to the decrease in the volume of training.

You can also learn more about High Performance Training right now at the below links:

Copyright © by Coach Shannyn,  All rights reserved

Blog 16: HPT-PST Day 2: Advanced Imagery

Learn how to use an advanced form of imagery to strengthen your ability to change the way you feel about training, competing, & preparing for the season. Control the consistent images you see to determine your actions to optimally perform.

HPT-PST is an abbreviation for High Performance Training-Psychological Skills Training and this particular video is Day 2 of Day 7; i.e. a seven-day program to help student-athletes attain another level of confidence in their athletic abilities regarding imagery.  This program is being offered to everyone free for a limited time – so please take advantage of these “secrets of success”.

You can also learn more about High Performance Training right now at the below links:

Copyright © by Coach Shannyn,  All rights reserved

Blog 15: Imagery

Do you ever wonder what the champions are consistently thinking about?  Thinking, is an advanced form of imagery.  Learn how to apply high performance imagery strategies that help you perform in the below video.

Some of the basics of imagery that are discussed in the above video are using the senses or the 5 senses most of us use to imagine doing things whether they are productive or unproductive.  Below are examples of both productive & unproductive uses of imagery.

Two imagery examples prior to stepping on the wrestling mat:

  1. Thinking confident, excited, productive emotions i.e. ready to compete
  2. Thinking frightful, nervous, unproductive emotions i.e. not ready to compete.

Because you can control many of your thoughts that lead to actions, the video points out several ways & means to get your mind in the right frame to execute more productive imagery.  Two examples of this strategy are practicing (months, weeks, & days prior) self-talk and creating a pre-competition routine.  Both of these tactics likely will help most of us – if persistently trained, practiced, & conditioned.

Towards the end of the above video, 2 other examples are given on how to start or begin to notice your own imagery.  The examples are given to suggest everyone has the capacity to control imagery whether they believe it or not.  The challenge for some is to believe they can control their own imagery – then gradually use imagery to gain an extreme advantage over prior or previous athletic experiences they have had.

You can also learn more about High Performance Training right now at the below links:

Copyright © by Coach Shannyn,  All rights reserved

Blog 14: Pre-competition Routine

Not only should you prepare your body for competitions, you should also prepare your mind.  It may be wise to also plan for obstacles or the unplanned.  In this video, learn & master this skill plus be ready for anything.

The above photo displays Coach Shannyn working with 2 younger wrestlers on the details on success for a specific component.  All athletes – in all age groups plus genders – can learn & master a pre-competition routine that is appropriate for their specific development level.

Overtime, this skill will become apart of everyday training and will be “routine” similar to warming-up, competing, cooling down, stretching, & re-fueling.  In the last sentence, athletes could add a pre-competition routine prior to warming-up that might include: self-talk, imagery, a mental & physical checklist review, & perhaps a review of how & why they are successful in athletic competitions.

Once athletes begin to initiate an ongoing High Performance Training system, that is implemented by the coach and includes many of the topics contained in these Blogs, they may be closer to reaching & attaining their process plus outcome goals for athletic competitions which may have a high carry-over value for many endeavors in life.

You can also learn more about High Performance Training right now at the below links:

Copyright © by Coach Shannyn,  All rights reserved

Blog 13: Self-Talk

What are you saying to yourself and why?

What you say to yourself matters and helps you perform at a high level.  Learn strategies to enhance and control your inner thoughts, or, self-talk in this video.

One way to think of self-talk is to use either of the next terms in place of self-talk: self-coaching or self-instructing.  With these two terms, it may be more clear on how or what you might say to yourself.  Most effective coaches & instructors give very precise phrases or words while teaching and/or motivating.

Another term that is equally similar could be self-teaching.  This term suggests that you might be teaching yourself how to do or act or be.  This could mean what you are teaching yourself, through your own words, will have an impact on your next thought or action.

Finally, self-talk can either be spoken aloud or mentally.  How you use your self-talk is going to be up to you.  It may make sense to practice both ways to see which is more effective for you.

The above video gives you many suggestions and recommendations that will likely be productive if you believe they will work – and you work them.  You will become better at most things in life if you have a very effective plan – and you act on the plan i.e. you execute the plan.

You can also learn more about High Performance Training right now at the below links:

Copyright © by Coach Shannyn,  All rights reserved

Blog 12: Training Design

The organization of training is a critical factor to implementing annual successful seasons.  “Training Design” covers pre-season, post-season, warm-ups, & much more.  This video ties the HPT series together.

Closely related to “Training Design” or organization of training is The hourglass theory.  The below  excerpt from the upcoming e-book Coaching Wrestling in the 21st Century: The Art & Science of Coaching Wrestling describes the importance of organizing training so that all athletes maximize the amount of high performance training from the start, throughout, & the end of their careers.

The hourglass theory suggests once the last grain of sand has escaped the hourglass, an athlete’s career is over. So if an individual student athlete’s maximum number of matches is 300, and s/he wrestles 300 matches before middle school or high school, they will have little if anything left for high school or college wrestling. This hourglass theory was developed based on my own college experience and my coaching experience the last 15 or so years.

Have you ever seen a burned-out, scholarship wrestler in college? I have. I’ve seen several of them and it is not fun. Because I was so excited to wrestle in college (I started wrestling my freshman year in high school), many of these burn-out type of wrestlers intrigued me. So I would ask “Why are you wrestling if you don’t like it anymore?” And typically, the response would be something like “Shannyn, I’ve been wrestling for 13 years and now I’m on scholarship and want to have fun in college.”

I always believe coaches should keep athletes hungry to compete while keeping an eye on the hourglass. When athletes are hungry to compete, they appear to be extremely motivated for competition and training. Many coaches overseas also agree with this motivation to train and compete and use training camps as a way to maximize training & competition.

Former Austrian National Team Coach Bruno Hartmann explained to me “these international training camps are stimulating for all of my wrestlers because they are training with different partners who they may never see again.” Training camps and international training camps are stimulating, motivating and are a different way to get competition within the realm of the hourglass theory. As an example,at the U.S. Olympic Education Center, we typically would have 2-3 international training camps per year with about 1 “real” competition per month. That design kept the athletes hungry to compete, gave them the opportunity to travel abroad and experience a different part of the world, plus minimized the actual number of “real” matches they had.

You can also learn more about High Performance Training right now at the below links:

Copyright © by Coach Shannyn,  All rights reserved

Blog 11: The Olympic Medal Count

Editors note: This article was formerly titled “Popularity of Wrestling” and was changed after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games partially due to the almost threefold spike in Olympic medals won by Team USA in 2020.  In the below photo, Tamyra Mensah-Stock celebrates becoming USA’s 2nd Women’s Wrestling Olympic Champ at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.  

Since 1968, USA Wrestling has won a combined 81 medals for an average of 6.2 medals per Games for roughly 18-20 weight classes (8 medals won out of 18 weight classes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games). The weight class number is an approximation because now there are 18 medals for wrestling at the Olympic Games (since 2004) and in the past, there were 20 weight classes contested at the Olympics.

USA Olympic wrestling medals won since 1968

  • 1968 Mexico City 2
  • 1972 Munich 6
  • 1976 Montreal 6
  • 1980 Moscow 0 (USA boycott )
  • 1984 Los Angeles 13 (Soviet Union boycott)
  • 1988 Seoul 6
  • 1992 Barcelona 8
  • 1996 Atlanta 8
  • 2000 Sydney 7
  • 2004 Athens 6
  • 2008 Beijing 3
  • 2012 London 4
  • 2016 Rio 3
  • 2020 Tokyo 9
  • 2024 Paris ?

Keep this in mind, wrestling is a very popular sport in the former Soviet Union and now Russia (plus 13 other republics i.e. Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Belarussia, Ukraine, Lithuania, etc.) During this same time period, the Soviet Union/Russia won almost double the USAs medal count or 153 medals.

If USA could produce more medals for wrestling at the Olympic Games, would this medal count increase the popularity of our great sport?

If the popularity of our great sport is increased, would this increase the amount of resources available to continue a great wrestling tradition like the Russian men’s programs or the Japanese women’s program?

Mixed martial arts has exploded in popularity over the last 15 years or so and some of the advertising strategies they are using are similar to what many professional sport organizations are using. One example of this idea is the marketing and promotion of their product via the internet, magazines, & television. Exposure through said media channels may help increase exposure to young aspiring mixed martial artists. Many media sport organizations like ESPN, FOX Sports, NBC Sports, & others also have this same type of mass exposure for everyone to see. This mass exposure may be one of the keys to success of making a sport popular.

Money can help you pay gas, electric, food bills; buy cars; pay rent; & pay mortgages  among other things. If these necessities are in question, it may be hard to keep our best athletes in our sport. MMA can pay more money to athletes that are not world champions nor national team members currently than USA Wrestling can. If you are a national team member, a world or an Olympic Champion, you may be able to survive, thrive, & train in our wonderful sport. It is possible to live, train, & thrive under the current structure (it is hard – believe me) and it appears many world class athletes are leaving wrestling for MMA or other jobs to help pay bills and/or have a family. When many world class wrestlers leave our sport in their prime, this may make our sport less popular.

Other training systems
There are other sport training systems in the USA and abroad that appear to work efficiently & effectively regarding retaining, developing, and paying athletes. Some of the different than wrestling training systems include: Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, track & field, swimming, tennis, skiing, cycling. To my knowledge, all of these training systems actually allow the athletes to ‘go pro’ or forgo amateur status and train/compete as professionals. There are other sports like volleyball, speedskating, & female gymnastics that have a different/successful model than just mentioned and also different from wrestling.

Soccer, or football as it is called world wide, is different too. Many football programs across the globe are very similar to hockey & baseball in the USA in terms of development, retention, and remuneration. In other words, most world football leagues have training centers that feed into the major league system or professional team. And, it usually takes several years for a teen to make it from these training centers to the professional leagues. These systems appear to work because many athletes make the professional ranks, or are on television, or can make a living in the minor leagues if they are not on television. When training systems are efficient & effective, this may increase popularity.

Sport schools
Most successful soccer, baseball, hockey, gymnastic, swimming, & other teams have something similar to sport schools. Many of these sport schools (are before training centers) teach the same sport that is being contested either professionally or at the Olympic Games (compare this to mastering collegiate wrestling in high school & college – then mastering international style wrestling as an adult or at ages 22-27). Some of these sport schools are fee based and some of these sport schools are merit based while others are both.  One key for mass exposure and/or mass participation in sport is high level coaching for all – even for those who may be unable to afford it…

A key component of these sport schools is (at least and many times more than) 15-20 hours of training per week. Another key component of these sport schools is that they are designed just like elementary, middle, or high schools in terms of development and/or length. In other words, most of these schools’ design is to teach a student till junior level mastery which may take 7-10 years.

The final component is the sports being taught are the same as the professional or Olympic Games sport being contested (again, refer to current folkstyle wrestling taught in all USA high schools & colleges). This is a key component because the time it takes to master a sport may take longer if a student starts later. In some cases, students may master only certain parts of the sport prior to making the Olympic Games or before retiring. Think of a sixth grader trying to compete with a high school graduate in sport or in the classroom. This example may be what we are up against in our wonderful sport sometimes at the Olympic level due to gaps in development or a late start at mastering sport. Mastery of sport at a young age, say 19, may increase the popularity for many youth. (2012 Olympic wrestling champions Toghrul Asgarov, AZE, was 19 & Natalia Vorobieva, RUS, were 20 – 2012 Olympic basketball champions & NBA champions Kobe Bryant, LeBron James entered NBA at 17, 18 respectively.)

The Basketball & Soccer effect
These 2 sports are unique because they combine many elements to be popular from above and they add this next factor that many sports do not have. This unique factor is mastering the sport on the playgrounds. Said another way, the USA (basketball) and Brazil (soccer) produce many teenage superstars that ‘go pro’ prior to sport schools and training centers (mass exposure & participation with minimal or no fees). So many athletes are in these sports and it appears that the talent pool is rich due to the popularity of the sports. In other words, so many youth are participating in these sports, that it seems like a lot of training and learning is done via games that are played at American or Brazilian playgrounds or parks with out formal or paid coaches. This may happen because the sports are extremely popular due to the mass exposure given to these sports in their respective countries. Think Pele or Jordan (icons in soccer &  basketball respectively); or think of how many youth want to be like Mike or Pele…

Final ideas
The factors of MMA, money, other training systems, sport schools, and the basketball & soccer effect may have an impact on the popularity of wrestling. Popularity of wrestling may also have an impact on medals won.

You can also learn more about High Performance Training right now at the below links:

Copyright © by Coach Shannyn, All rights reserved

Blog 10: High Performance Training II Day 7 – Communication

Blog 10: High Performance Training II Day 7 – Communication

In this video, learn how effective communication can be used with your team, parents, administrators, sponsors, and everyone who has a stake in your success.

Excerpt from High Performance Training: Coaching Wrestling in the 21st Century

The other people you should get to know prior to teaching & coaching any wrestling program are your administrators, staff, parents, volunteers, sponsors, and the media (who all will be referred to as stakeholders).  In many cases, these stakeholders are apart of your team and will help your program achieve its goals.  On the other hand, these same stakeholders may be in positions to thwart your goals unless you as the coach have used your communication skills to let them know they are important, respected, and central to your program’s goals.

I believe stakeholders should be treated with respect in all areas of communication.  Below are several ways to communicate with your stakeholders in a respectful manner:

  • Respond to questions, concerns promptly & w/tact
  • Ask stakeholders their opinions
  • Ask stakeholders how you are doing
  • Invite stakeholders to your office
  • Invite stakeholders to view one of your practices
  • Listen to stakeholders attentively
  • Avoid complaining to stakeholders

Everyone has a boss and generally there is a chain of command that must be adhered to for any organization to be successful or a high performance system.  In most cases, your administrators, athletic directors, or board will be your immediate bosses and these folks generally want to see you succeed.  That is pointed out because if you as coach do your job well, and adhere to the bullets above, you are more likely to build great relationships with your bosses and the other stakeholders (your team).

Part of your job as coach is to let your team know your plans i.e. what is going on, why it is going on, how it is going on, & when goal(s) will be completed.  Essentially, great communication with your stakeholders allows your team to feel and be successful with you plus know what is going on without being left in the dark or being surprised.

You can also learn more about High Performance Training right now at the below links:

Copyright © by Coach Shannyn,  All rights reserved