Have you ever wondered what a coach is saying to the wrestlers right when they finish a match? Sometimes it looks like discussion of strategy or philosophy or just what some people would call feedback or constructive criticism. The analogy I’d like to make is a great coach who has invested 100s or 1000s of hours into coaching an athlete is diagnosing a problem like a mechanic when you bring your car in for a check engine light. You know something is wrong with the car but you can’t tell by looking at it. In the same way a coach can see something like a technique that needs to be fixed in practice or a strategy that can be implemented to achieve better results. Usually the check engine light is not fixed by just plugging in the diagnostic tool though, the mechanic then has to fix the broken part. After that, boom! The car is fixed and is on the road. This is exactly what the coach is talking to the wrestler about after a match: How a technique needs to be executed to score or maybe how a technique can be used to prevent the opponent from scoring. And just like the mechanic taking the car into the workshop, the coach and athlete need to go to practice to work on what needs fixing. Repeating this process many many times over a season is how a coach can help a wrestler keep getting better results as the season winds down.
But wait! Sometimes it’s just the low fuel light! This is another thing the coach does with a wrestler right after a match. They refuel their confidence level by telling them something they did that is working well. It might be they hit a move they have been working on, or maybe they used a setup to make their shot easier. Whatever that may be and there are 1000s of possibilities, the coach can boost the wrestlers confidence by just giving them positive feedback on what they just did.
None of this is focusing on if they won or lost the match and many people say getting your hand raised causes a wrestler to forget about any mistakes they made because they won the match. There is a lot of truth to that. To become the best wrestler you can be you need to continuously improve and letting your coach give you feedback is part of the process. That’s why all of us old guys hold our former coaches in such high regard. They helped us achieve our goals and those big ones like winning a State title, becoming an All-American, etc are the shining moments that we cherish forever. What went into that was our coach diagnosing the check engine light and low fuel light after matches and then helping us fix the problem in the “workshop.”
This really struck me as important because of the regret that is often felt right after the state tournament, national tournament or whatever event a wrestler set out to accomplish at the beginning of the season. If they lost a match they instantly regret not doing all of the extra work that could have aided them in accomplishing the goal. Of course its easy with perfect hindsight to look back and wish you would have worked harder or put more time or effort in. A great motivational tool to prevent this type of disappointment would be to visualize that loss in the moments months before the event and if you don’t like the feeling of the loss then go and run, lift, drill etc harder and more often.
I believe that almost any realistic goal can be accomplished if the athlete invests enough time and continues to improve in all 3 positions: neutral, bottom, and top. If you closely watch a state championship match most wrestlers only execute 10 or so techniques. They go for their best takedown multiple times, they escape off bottom, they attempt some breakdowns or mat returns and then they defend the attacks of their opponent.
So what can be done to not procrastinate? Will the panic monster help me? Yes if you set a series of small time limited goals the panic monster could motivate you to accomplish these things on a daily basis. There is no secret to success but putting off the work for another day is a surefire way to risk not accomplishing the goal.
To follow up on my last post I am planning to continue my blog posts partially to cure my own boredom and also to help wrestlers keep improving despite the lack of training opportunities.
As of today USA Wrestling has canceled all events up to July 1st and it sadly seems that there will not be any Freestyle/Greco this summer. This is a hard truth to accept but in the end we always need to do what we can and control the things that we have power over.
Video study is the topic here and I think there are 2 ways of looking at it. First, watch video of yourself and look back at the successes and failures you had. Growing up I was really lucky to have a dad that was really focused on capturing the memories. He recorded nearly every match on his old bulky VHS camcorder. I have uploaded many of those matches to my youtube channel and I’ve only converted about 10% of them but looking back it was a huge tool for me to improve my wrestling. Those VHS tapes were a major tool that I used to get better. By watching yourself compete you can learn a lot. Did I score using a new technique? Did I lose because I had a bad strategy? Did I not prepare properly? Did I perform my best? Those are just some of the questions I would ask myself.
The other way to use video to make yourself better is to watch matches of other athletes. The last week I watched nearly the whole 2019 World Championships. There were so many matches. The 97kg weight class is so loaded and I enjoy watching all of those guys go at it. Its also really cool to see guys like Kyle Dake and J’den Cox win world titles and represent USA.
To wrap it up: Use this time to study video! Watch your old matches and learn from your own experiences and also watch other wrestlers to see what you can implement into your own wrestling style.
Wow this has been a very interesting Spring! With the NCAA tournament canceled, Olympics postponed, and all other practices and competitions suspended indefinitely, this is a very strange time for wrestlers. This is the longest I have went without being in a wrestling room in about 20 years. The only glimpse of hope is that USA Wrestling has not canceled Fargo and at the time I am writing this I sincerely hope that the tournament will happen in July.
Other than the complete stoppage of wrestling practice its important to stay active. I suggest wrestlers of all ages continue with a serious committment to doing pushups, situps, pullups, squats, and any other bodyweight exercise. As the weather improves I also recommend putting in some serious road work. As and athlete I ran a lot! During high school I would run outside on a 3-4 mile route at least two times per week even during the season. All you need is a pair of running shoes and some layers of clothing depending on the temperature. Try not to run on concrete or asphalt whenever possible. A coach once told me to bounce a golf ball on dirt or grass, then bounce one on a sidewalk. Thats the wear and tear thats happening to your ankles and knees and why it hurts me to walk up/down stairs to this day haha. One last thought on running- always finish the last 50-75 yards of your run in a full on sprint. Just like a wrestling match it is critical to finish hard if you plan to perform your best.
During this quarantine I’ll try to post more often than I have in the past. Until next time -AK
As the school year is wrapped up many wrestlers have been going strong for several months at this time. My team just finished our Freestyle/Greco season with the Clash at the Capital outdoor Freestyle dual tournament in Omaha this past weekend. Now we have a select few wrestlers who will continue to train throughout the summer, compete in Regional and National Freestyle/Greco tournaments, culminating at the biggest and baddest of them all in Fargo ND in July.
For most wrestlers the summer is an important part of skill development. Wrestling is a very skill oriented sport and along with strength and conditioning no area should be left untouched in a well rounded training regimen. My advise is to utilize strength training year round and lift at least 3 times a week if the facilities are available. Summer time is not a time to worry about conditioning, as Freestyle/Greco matches typically end quicker and have a 30 second break between periods. For that reason the summer should be focused on learning new skills and drilling techniques that wrestlers are already good at. This will give them their go to moves that they can fall back on and also new ones to keep opponents who are seen regularly guessing what they will do next.
A big part of learning new skills is to get instruction from as many different coaches as possible in the off season. This allows wrestlers to continue to learn new techniques and keep adding them to their arsenal. I encourage wrestlers to seek out camps and clinics that meet their needs and never stop learning!
This is an exciting time of the year. The college season is getting to the open tournaments and high schools are about to start practice. Also in some parts of the country middle schools and youth clubs are starting to practice. The beginning of the season always has a lot of energy and everyone is optimistic to start attacking this years goals of improving on their sport or increase strength. I believe that wrestlers have many ways to be successful and people of all body types and sizes can find what works for them and create a style of techniques that works for them. Obviously the Twister was a technique that I used consistently in matches but everything must be practiced and drilled properly to become proficient to the point of executing it under pressure during an important match. For this reason I suggest utilizing intense drilling as a part of your practice routine. Slow and easy never happens in a match so make the drills fast and wrestlers will begin to decrease their reaction time and hit the moves in real speed. Good luck to everyone and as always feel free to contact me if I can help in any way.
I have decreased the price of the Twister DVD by $5 as a gift to anyone who wants to learn the move that can get them a few more pins this year. Click here!
TWA and CWO have joined forces again for the 2018 spring season. We will be hosting practices on Mondays and Thursdays from 6:30-8pm in the New Columbus High School Wrestling Room. We will continue training through the state freestyle tournament which is May 5th.
Summer camps are being added daily so be sure to check the camps page to see the latest.
The finish of another wrestling season brings us to the off season. Some people do not believe in “Off Season” and those types of individuals are the ones that are not afraid of out working the opposition in order to accomplish their goals. This will be my first year in Nebraska which is a great city for sports as wrestling and hunting using The 5 Best Compound Bows of 2018. In a few years and I am looking forward to creating a great training situation for any wrestlers who don’t want to just wait until next November to start wrestling again. Started in 2006 the Twister Wrestling Academy is focused on helping wrestlers accomplish their goals through technique development and acquiring quality training partners. Starting March 3rd in the Columbus High Wrestling Room we will begin working towards preparations for the 2016 season! Click here for online registration. Click here for a flyer.
If you know me you know I enjoy a good countdown. Today is just 7 weeks prior to the beginning of another high school season. As I enter my 10th year coaching I have moved back to the state where I became a State Champion: Nebraska. As the new head coach at Columbus High School I am really looking forward to the start of this season. Columbus has a deep history which includes 34 State Champions and 7 team titles. I am honored to be part of that history but even more excited to be a part of the future! I enjoyed my time in Colorado and made many lifelong friends but like the saying goes, There is no place like home.
It is with a new heightened level of alacrity that I say good luck to wrestlers across the country in the pursuit of state and national championships! The preseason is the perfect time to start adding new techniques to your style. I have added my former teammate Jeff Rutledge’s Superduck DVD to the shop page and if you have not seen it in a match you are missing out!
Lastly it is only 2 months before competitions start, and that means it is time to start making small changes in your nutrition and I recommend you try Advocare supplements. They are the best in the industry and you can rest assured that you are putting only the highest quality nutrients in your body to maintain your “fighting weight”