. . . on Practice Organization
by Bill Welker, EdD
The success of your scholastic wrestling program will depend largely on how well you prepare practice sessions from day to day. It is important to realize that your daily practices must evolve with the needs of the athletes participating in the program. For example, if you are working with young and inexperienced wrestlers, you will need to spend more time on the perfection of fundamental techniques. After that, you can begin to move on to more advanced wrestling skills.
Preseason Daily Practice Sessions
Preseason practices should start with conditioning activities and passive to semi-active drill work. In the ?rst two weeks of practice, emphasis should be on preparing the wrestlers for wrestling.
Always remember, if you begin active wrestling before the participants are properly conditioned, you may ?nd yourself facing an abundance of injury problems. Moreover, when you do begin all-out wrestling in practice, it would be wise to start with mat (or ground) wrestling ?rst and gradually work into active takedown wrestling. This is also the time of year you will want to iron out your wrestlers' fundamental skills, discuss new rule changes and review healthy weight- management practices. Keeping with this philosophy at the beginning of the year will make for a safer and more rewarding season.
Preseason and In-Season Practice Format
The following format demonstrates the similarities and differences between preseason and in-season practices. In both cases, daily practices should never last more than two hours. After that point, scholastic wrestlers tend to lose their ability to concentrate.
Conditioning Warm-Up Exercises (10 to 15 minutes). These exercises should stress total-body flexibility, strength, and endurance. Such training will help prevent injuries. The same warm-up should be used for both preseason and in-season practices.
Wrestling Drill Work (10 to 15 minutes). Passive to active drills involving skills and moves from all facets of wrestling are the priority during this phase of practice. Use this approach in both preseason and in-season practice.
Step-by-Step Analysis of Wrestling Moves (10 to 15 minutes). In this phase, thoroughly demonstrate moves, then let the wrestlers practice the maneuvers' essential parts step-by-step. Use this technique often in preseason practices but only when necessary during in-season practices.
Wrestling Workout Sessions (30 to 60 minutes). The wrestling workout sessions should be much more intense during in-season practices, when wrestler conditioning is at its peak. Preseason workouts should last about 30 minutes; in-season wrestling workout sessions should last for nearly an hour. During this time, divide the wrestlers into groups. While one group is wrestling, the other group is running and weight training. Thus, no one is standing around while others are wrestling. (If your wrestlers do lift weights, it should be every other day.)
During the wrestling workout sessions, you should frequently stop wrestlers in the middle of action with two purposes in mind. First, show the wrestlers how they are inadequately executing moves. Second, if necessary, demonstrate another move that would be more suitable for the same situation. Keep in mind, the wrestling workout sessions are the most important phase of in-season practices.
Conditioning Finish Exercises (10 to 15 minutes). These end-of-practice exercises should be "snappy," with emphasis on strength and endurance skills. This phase would be identical for both preseason and in-season practices.
Never forget that as a coach, you are also a teacher. You should always entertain any responsible questions from your wrestlers regarding practice drills and moves. If a wrestler does not understand the signi?cance of what he is doing, successful accomplishment of a maneuver will rarely be the result.
Wrestling Words of Wisdom
"An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory."
- Friedrich Engels
(Excerpt from The Wrestling Drill Book, 2E by Bill Welker. It can be purchased at www.humankinetics.com or www.amazon.com.)