West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Back-To-Basics

Every year, in West Virginia, wrestling competition becomes keener and keener. Our young matmen are in much better condition, hardly breaking a sweat, even in overtime action. However, like many of my coaching colleagues, I do perceive some weak areas that need to be improved.

First of all, what ever happened to basics! For example, wrestlers today are so intrigued with "armbars" (a pinning combination in which the top man works on his opponent's arms) that they are missing half-nelson after half-nelson (one of the oldest and most successful moves in wrestling). Far too many grapplers are so dazzled with the fancy moves that they forget to utilize those elemental manuevers that "get the job done."

And secondly, I notice another bad habit. Contemporary matmen aren't exploding (with chain-wrestling movements) on the whistle in the defensive or bottom position. Where does this problem begin? Are the coaches to blame? I don't think so.

It is this writer's contention that freestyle (international) wrestling in the off-season, although tremendous for perfecting takedowns, is the source of the dilemma. Why? Because in freestyle wrestling, if one gets taken down, he only attempts to maintain a good base so as not to be turned over on his back. Then, after approximately 15 seconds (and when no fall is in progress). the wrestlers are again placed in the neutral or standing position. Now I sincerely believe that this type of wrestling is inadvertently teaching poor movement on the bottom.

Just like the 3-R's in the classroom, wrestlers must also return to basics. Yes, the colorful and flamboyant tactics might beat the average opponents, but sound "fundamentals" will triumph over the best.

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Updated June 6, 1997