How to use Summer Camps to become a better wrestler (From June 2009)
Every athlete, no matter how good or successful, can improve technical wrestling skills. I am a big believer that Summer Camps are for doing just that. A careful evaluation of your own skills, strengths and weaknesses, should be done prior to going to summer camps. Going into the summer, you should know up front what areas you want to improve on, and gear your summer training to accomplish that.
For some, the list might look like this:
1. Add one more reliable takedown to my game;
2. Develop another skill or two from top position - maybe add one extra tilt I can rely on, and improve on my breakdowns.
3. Counter legs from down position.
Your own list will vary, of course. The point is, set goals for the summer - know what areas of wrestling you want to improve on, and then work to improve on those areas. If you know going in, what you want to accomplish there, it can help you in choosing camps, and also in training while there. And by the way, at my own Intensive Training Camp, I encourage athletes to send in video to me so I can help with the process of developing them individually as athletes. (Actually, if you are going to my other camps, you can do the same thing and I'll look at it and be ready to give you pointers when you come.)
Finally, some camp advice: while you are there, take full advantage of the coaching that is present. Don't hesitate to ask a coach to stay after and work with you. Also - look at your list of things you want to improve on. Ask if those areas are going to be covered. If not, maybe seek out a coach there that can help you develop some of those areas, outside of the regular workouts. You should be able to do that at a quality camp - you can certainly do that at my camps. My coaches are all dedicated, quality individuals that you can learn a lot from. And I am available after every session.
Summer Training: Choosing the right camp for you (From May 2009)
First, a word about summer wrestling. There are many different ways to train in the summer: open mats and tournaments, lifting, summer camps. To me, a good mix of these, is important for your development as an athlete. There are numerous live wrestling opportunities to choose from, including open mats, tournaments, and various camps that stress live wrestling over instruction. However, while live wrestling is an important part of the equation, I believe it is always important to work on improving skill and learning new technique as well. This is where you can really stretch yourself as a wrestler.
When you are looking at camps to improve your skill, there are some main factors you should be looking at. First, who is training you? Some disturbing trends in camps: Trend #1: Name camps where the name coach isn't training you. If you are attending Jeff Jones' camp, Jeff Jones should be the guy coaching you, rather than just making an appearance now and then. Trend #2: Bring in Star Attractions - big name athletes or coaches, to draw in a lot of athletes, then they teach a session or two, and leave. You never really get to learn their technique, or drill it enough to get it down. Trend #3: Camp Factories (usually University camps) with lots of numbers - too many for a staff to work with. These camps are big money-makers for those running them, but athletes don't tend to learn much, and the coach-athlete ratio is usually very poor. A lot of times, Trend #2 and Trend #3 are directly related.
Look for a camp that will actually train you in a system. Camps that emphasize core techniques and continue to go over these techniques, do a lot more for you than camps that throw tons of moves at you and never go back to those techniques.
Whatever camp you choose to attend, you should make sure you drill the technique when you get back home. Set a day and time, the week after camp, to review what you learned, and stick with it. Make sure you get on the mats consistently throughout the summer so you don't lose what you worked so hard to attain.
Freestyle Wrestling: A few skills you need to have (from April 2009)
As I've mentioned before, freestyle wrestling is very beneficial to the high school wrestler; it is the ultimate spring cross training vehicle. Athletes learn so much from it because of the movements and positioning that are important in freestyle. In addition, most of the top guys in the state are doing freestyle/greco in the spring and wrestling at the USA Nationals in Fargo in the summer.
So, allow me to cover a few essential skills you need to wrestle freestyle.
First, due to rule changes in the past few years, Freestyle wrestling is geared more toward the feet than anything else. In fact, an athlete almost never starts from Par Terre (down position) anymore, rather, gets there from wrestling into it. The higher level you go, the more it becomes a takedown battle. However, at the younger levels - high school and down - there will be quite a bit of 'ground' wrestling. You have to be able to counter two main moves on the ground: 1. Gut Wrench in its different forms (high, low, trapped arm); and 2. Leg and ankle laces. Work hard to develop a very strong, solid base on the mat. Kill as much time as possible in keeping them from getting anything locked up.
Next, on the feet: Be able to finish your shots in freestyle without giving up exposure points. Spend a lot of time in shot situations so you prevent guys from turning you, and also so you can finish. Athletes in my Elite Freestyle/Greco club spend hours and hours in these attack positions - scoring from there and countering from there as well. Next - work on transitions - meaning, getting takedowns and going right into turns from there. That's how you really open up a freestyle match, and it is the best time to get a turn.
Finally: Winning the Center. The closer the match, the more important the center of the mat is. You lose a point for stepping out of bounds, and those points decide a lot of matches. Main rule is this: don't back out of the center circle, let alone the big circle. If you take 3 steps out of the center circle, you are already in trouble. Make sure you know how to circle back in. There are some good drills to emphasize this. Make sure you do them.