“Proper prior planning prevents poor performance”
Wrestling season is around the corner. Many wrestlers and parents are asking the question “How do I make this the best season ever?” The first thing to remember is that the two hours of practice time is only a part of your overall training. Here are ten ways to get ready for wrestling season:
- Establish a Training Schedule:
We are going to discuss a myriad of ways to make this a great season from technique to conditioning and nutrition. It all starts with a great action plan. Write down all the important aspects in wrestling and build this into your weekly training plan. Many wrestlers benefit from having a big calendar which outlines your training plan for each day of the week.
- Strength Training:
Focus on building functional strength, targeting key muscle groups such as the posterior chain (lower back, glutes and hamstrings), core, upper back and grip strength. Ensure that you have proper technique and form when lifting weights in order to reduce the likelihood of injuries. Cael Sanderson’s number one rule in the weight room is “no injuries in the weight room.” Work with a strength coach, personal trainer or experienced workout partner to learn proper technique. Frequently incorporate band exercises to improve tendon strength since muscles grow faster than tendons.
While there is no greater conditioning for wrestling than hard wrestling (live wrestling, speed drilling), most programs incorporate a couple months of general physical preparedness which includes jogging, sprints, circuit training, and high-intensity interval workouts, to improve your stamina. Jumping rope is another great tool to improve conditioning as well as footwork in wrestling. Swimming is also a great low impact option to improve endurance.
- Attend a Wrestling Club or Open Mats:
It is imperative to spend a lot of time on the mat to improve your wrestling technique. Attend pre-season camps, open mats, or join a wrestling club. Focus on mastering several takedowns, escapes and turns on top. Regularly practice with partners of varying skill levels and body types. Talk to your coaches about key positions in wrestling and ensure you spend time improving in each.
- Mental Preparation:
Wrestling is as much a mental game as it is a physical one. One of the biggest hurdles for many wrestlers is their mindset not their technique or physical skill. Often times, wrestlers will be able to execute in practice but fall short against the same opponents in matches. Other lack aggressiveness or the killer instinct against good opponents. A proper plan to improve mental toughness, relax under pressure and build confidence can help a wrestler jump levels and perform at their potential. At Wrestling Mindset, we recommend wrestlers spend at least 30 minutes each week directly working on their mindset with an expert mindset coach.
- Weight Management:
A well-rounded wrestler must prioritize nutrition, hydration, and rest. This will enhance your mood, increase energy and lead to better weight management. Consume a balanced diet rich in lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables to fuel your body. Stay hydrated throughout the day, especially during intense training sessions. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to aid in muscle recovery and overall performance. Work with a nutritionist to develop a healthy plan to manage your weight.
- Flexibility Training and Injury Prevention:
To minimize the risk of injuries, warm up properly before each training session or match. Incorporate dynamic stretches or mobility exercises before intense physical activity. Incorporate static stretching after wrestling practice and workouts to improve flexibility. Listen to your body and address any injuries to prevent them from escalating. Work with a physical trainer or physical therapist to ensure proper posture and joint health.
- Live the Lifestyle of a Champion Off the Mat:
Frequently wrestlers jeopardize their success by their actions off the mat. Bad friends or relationships, drugs and alcohol, smoking, dipping, vaping, staying out late, are all sure ways to curtail progress and fail to reach your potential. Bad life choices will drain your energy, increase chances of injury, harm your mind and body and likely lead to a life of regret. Champions win in their training and in their lifestyle. A wise coach Mark Cody once said, “It’s not just you versus your opponent, but your lifestyle versus their lifestyle.”
- Track your progress and gradually increase intensity:
A youth wrestler’s training regimen should look very different than a high school wrestler’s routine. Keep track of your progress throughout the training period. Maintain a training journal to record your workouts, goals, and improvements. Celebrate small victories along the way to build confidence and stay motivated. Each season, increase your training intensity and make tweaks to improve your regimen.
- Utilize Wrestling Resources and Keep Learning:
If you think you have all the answers then you need to start asking better questions. Keep a White Belt Mentality, where you are hungry to learn from everyone. Utilize the resources around you to improve.
Wrestling Mindset is the leading authority in mental performance training for wrestlers.
Flowrestling and Youtube are great resources for online technique, video review and watching interviews of elite wrestlers.
Purler Wrestling is a great camp system and resource for wrestling technique and online training.
Zach Even Esh, of Underground Strength is a wrestling strength training expert.
Dan Wernikoff of Wrestler Nutrition, is a wrestling specific nutritionist working with many elite wrestlers.
Ask your coaches, parents or teammates how you can improve this season. Talk to them about your goals and you can be assured of some honest feedback to improve.
Preparing for the wrestling season requires dedication, discipline, and a systematic approach. Follow these steps and you will be well on your way to the best season ever. Good luck and never stop believing!