There are many basic skills of wrestling to be mastered in freestyle wrestling and some of the basics in most wrestling styles (folkstyle, freestyle, Greco-Roman) in the USA are fundamental to success. This paper outlines some skills to be mastered for success in freestyle wrestling.
Being able to sustain good position is critical to success whether in par terre position (top or bottom) or on the feet. Stance is the word that describes excellent position on the feet and when this stance in broken, the optimal opportunity to attack or counter attack is an instant away. On the mat or in par terre wrestling, position is needed to keep from getting turned or pinned and to gain an advantage to turn or pin opponents.
Offsetting the opponents balance generally breaks position either by pushing or pulling. Set ups are the key to breaking position to create a near perfect time to attack and or counter attack.
Generally, angles of attack are gained by set ups which, again, break position. Some examples of a set ups include and are not limited to: fakes, feints, off balancing with specific tie ups (i.e. underhook, overhook, 2 on 1, etc.).
Knowing when to attack or counter attack is another area that is paramount to wrestling success. After position has been broken, there is a small window of opportunity to execute all wrestling skills. A 1 or 2 second delay of execution, in many cases, will result in an unsuccessful attempt or execution of most wrestling skills.
Understanding and mastering timing takes many repetitions, failures, successes, and practical experience wrestling in practice and in competition. Wrestlers must practice timing with appropriate reactions from training partners.
Learning how to drill is the key to better performance. Simulation of wrestling is what drilling should imitate and often times this skill needs to be taught and learned. Both wrestlers must be willing to understand this concept if either is to gain from drilling.
When one partner is learning a new skill, the other partner must mimic what will happen in a match with varying degrees of resistance and intensity.
When learning offensive skills, minimal resistance must be given by the defensive wrestler in order to allow the offensive wrestler to learn the movement. This same concept is employed when defensive wrestlers are learning counter attacks. Again, the position of both wrestlers is most important with varying degrees of resistance.
As new skills and the appropriate movement patterns become engrained and or second nature, offensive and defensive wrestlers must increase the amount of resistance – to give a more real feel or a similar match like reaction.
When skills are mastered, both wrestlers can give full resistance and essentially this is where wrestling becomes similar to the game of chess. At this point, position and set ups become, again, important.
Wrestlers have to be taught how to relax muscles when not in use so that when these muscles are needed for explosion of technique, they are fresh, ready, and prepared.
When certain parts of the body are relaxed, as with the mind, the body is fully capable of exploiting angles of attack that are created by breaks of position. If on the other hand, the whole body is tight (all muscles tense and contracted) movements are rigid and actually slower because the energy used to keep these muscles in a contracted state prohibits fluid movement patterns.
An example of muscles being used inappropriately is seen when trying to extend the arm with the triceps muscle while the biceps is contracted at full tension.
Relaxing also gives the mind a break, which causes the muscles to relax, and saves valuable energy for wrestling. When the mind is thinking of many different things at once or at worry, the body tends to tense up and become less explosive and slower.
To master any skill being taught, focus on the coach or teacher is necessary. Intense focus or concentration –by students on the teacher or coach– on movement patterns, placement of body parts (hands, feet, hips, etc.), and the position of the demonstrating opponent must be given extreme consideration by learning students of wrestling skills.
During technical or teaching sessions, wrestlers must be able to focus on key parts of instruction to mimic the offensive and defensive positions of the teacher or coach and the demonstrator. If the student or wrestler gives complete focus, all points of reference can by seen then imitated during drilling sessions.
Creating productive maximal force in the weight room or on the wrestling mat starts with mastering exercise body movements that also strengthen the body.
There are many types of calisthenics and most can be used as sport specific movement patterns that will enhance body awareness, flexibility and strength. Some of the more basic positions or calisthenics include: push-ups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks. The last several exercises have many different variations that will challenge the mind and body when mastered.
Calisthenics mastery will improve wrestlers ability to graduate to increased forms of resistance and explosive training like strength and conditioning training in the weight room and plyometrics training via bounding, hopping, skipping and jumping.
Mastery of self-body movement increases the chance to control someone else’s body efficiently and effectively by executing specific wrestling techniques.
Muscles and tendons connect to bones and must be supple vs. rigid in order to prevent unwanted wrestling injuries.
Because wrestling is a combat sport, the body will endure varying positions due to force applied by another wrestler and opponent. Stretching combined with calisthenics and other forms of strength training will keep the body limber, supple, and conditioned for many more degrees of forced flexibility or range of motion.
There are many forms of stretching and a lot of stretching movement patterns can mimic wrestling specific movements which will condition the mind and body for these positions when applied rapidly or all of a sudden. Ultimately, stretching productively enhances wrestlers’ muscle & tendon range of motion and this greatly reduces the chance of injury.
Warm up & Cool down
These 2 variations of getting the body ready will prolong wrestlers’ careers by allowing the body the proper amount of time to wrestle and recover before or just after wrestling.
Warm ups, combined with most of the above, ready the mind and body by increasing the heart rate, getting the muscles loose, warm, and energized to engage in fast movements full of tension per specific muscle groups. Warm ups can also train the body to focus on wrestling specific movements that warm the core temperature of the body, again, which increases readiness to wrestle and prevents injury.
Cool downs can also be used to allow the body proper recovery time and to get ready for the next bout of wrestling. This preparation, in essence, slows down the heart rate and cools the muscles (and mind) which readies the body for more wrestling while dispersing blood and oxygen through the body effectively and efficiently; this prevents pooling of blood in the muscles (or one area of the body) and lactic acid build up that will slown down movements and explosiveness.
Today, physical education appears to be a class or subject that many school districts either have cut or simply are unable to budget in the school curriculum. As a consequence of the last two options, wrestling coaches & athletes have to teach and learn the aforementioned ideas in wrestling practices prior to mastering sport specific skills of wrestling or wrestling technique.
The above ideas increase the concentration and athletic ability of wrestlers (also confidence, esteem, & character) while building a definite fundamental base for wrestling success.
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