Time changes everything - even the oldest of sports are subject to it. Wrestling goes back to the first Olympiad in Olympia, Greece in 776 AD. Back then, wrestling was mostly a stand up grappling sport where one opponent tried to “out muscle” the other.
Nearly 3,000 years later, wrestling is more dynamic, quicker and agile. While strength is still important there seems to be new contender and strategy for winning matches - quickness!
Any wrestler should be already be undergoing a weightlifting routine to enhance physical prowess on the mat, but how can we address ways to develop overall quickness and athleticism that will help athletes overcome opponents? How can looking to athletes who play sports such as football, basketball, and soccer help wrestlers develop their ability?
All of these drills will help develop an athlete’s ability to go side-to-side and have a short, quick burst forward.
Drill 1 – the Pro Shuttle
Setup – Three cones, set at intervals of five yards, in a straight line.
Objective – Start at the center cone, sprint five yards to the cone on the right, sprint ten yards back to the far cone on the left, sprint five yards back to the cone in the middle. Make sure the drill is also run in reverse to develop the ability to go either direction.
Sets and reps – This drill should be performed for 2-3 sets of each direction, at least once a week.
Purpose – This drill is great for developing the ability to quickly change direction, allowing wrestlers to gain the upper-hand and maneuver into a better position on the mat.
Drill 2 – Skater Hops
Set-up – An areas large enough to go side to side.
Objective – Start on one leg, push off hard and jump as high and far to the side as possible. Without turning in the air, land on the opposite leg.
Sets and reps – Twenty-five contacts, on each foot, at least twice a week.
Purpose – This drill develops power in the hips and legs to move as quickly as possible.
Drill 3 – Box Jumps
Set-up – Foam or wooden boxes, 18 inches or higher, depending on ability
Objective – Start from the ground and jump to the center of the box. Step off the box (don’t jump) to avoid possible injury.
Sets and reps – Try to get 25 jumps, twice a week.
Purpose – Develop power to shoot in for a double-leg or any take down, for that matter. An athlete must be quick to get the legs, but must be powerful in order to finish the job.
These three drills can be put into a wrestler’s training and can help them see results on the mat. Remember, wrestling isn’t just about strength anymore! Quickness and agility have become a viable method of getting in and imposing on an opponent. Train hard, train smart, train fast and we’ll see you on the mat!
Kirk Sabalka is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, and has worked for Nationwide children’s for nearly two years as part of the sports performance team. He is stationed at Grandview High School as their head strength and conditioning coach.
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