Wrestling - Be Sure to Change Pace in Practice
Wrestling - Be Sure to Change Pace in Practice

Wrestling - Be Sure to Change Pace in Practice

Dick Moss

Like middle distance runners, wrestlers should be able to change tempo during a match. They have to surge in the middle of rounds when they see an opening or sense that their opponent is vulnerable. They must kick it in at the end of a match if they are behind or find themselves fighting off a desperate opponent.

However, many wrestlers go through entire practices at the same pace so end up at that same single pace during competitions. This makes them less effective competitors.

To correct this problem, be sure to include time within each practice during which your wrestlers must change the tempo of their effort.

There are a number of ways you can implement changes in tempo during practices.

Whistle Surges
Tell your wrestlers that when you blow your whistle, they must give an all-out effort until you whistle again. This could occur during drills, conditioning or scrimmage sessions. And be sure to change the duration of the up-tempo periods. After all, they won't know how long they'll have to step it up during a match.

Percentage Surges
Use periods in which your wrestlers increase the tempo, but to less than 100%. This will give them the experience of increasing their work-rate in a controlled manner that will keep them strong throughout the match. It's similar to a surge in a middle distance running race.

To implement, you could shout out to your wrestlers, "OK, step it up by 20%!"

Secret Surges
You could also have only one athlete in a pair increase the tempo, by using a hand signal that can be seen only by that wrestler. You could do this by pointing at wrestlers when their partner's back is turned.

This will show them the advantage provided by a tempo increase over an opponent who remains at a constant pace. It will also show their partner the negative effects of not matching a partner's increased work rate. Finally, it will help your athletes become aware of changes in opponents' tempo, so they're not caught off-guard when an opponent steps it up.

Reference: Ray Takahashi (Former Olympian and Head Coach at the University of Western Ontario), "Enhancing your wrestling in practice." Ontario Wrestler, Winter 2006. http://www.oawa.ca


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