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How to not get “Phil’ed”

Today I take you way back before the Year 2000 (“The year 2000?  Yes Conan”)  for a story that will possibly amuse and/or horrify you if you’ve suffered a similar fate.

One of my collegiate wrestlers who will go unnamed (Phil) had drawn the #2 seed in the tournament.  The opponent was very tall and very lanky.

And also vulnerable to Phil’s best shot.

We proceeded to take him down 4 times in the first period.  8-3 lead after one.

2nd period choice:  I look at Phil, raise both hands in the touchdown position, and emphatically bark “NEUTRAL.”

And here’s where things go off the rails.

Phil looks at me and says, “I want to go DOWN.”

I look at him again, raise both hands in the touchdown position again, and MORE emphatically bark, “NEUTRAL!”

Phil, apparently struggling with the use of his brain cells that morning, repeats, “I want to go DOWN!”

After about three of these, I realize Phil is going to do what he wants.

I throw up my arms and say, “OK” and sit back down in the chair.

Phil chooses down.

Aaaaand his opponent shows why he’s seeded #2 and it has nothing to do with his ability to wrestle on his feet.

He proceeds to turn us relentlessly the entire period.

By the time the third period rolled around, we were down by 10 points and the match was basically over.

Now, this lesson could be about several things:  One being, coach knows best.  I do like that one but there are more.

Two being, when a collegiate wrestler is #2 seeded, really tall and terrible on his feet, you can bet he’s good on top position or he wouldn’t be seeded that high.   AKA, he’s winning somehow.

It can also be this:

Developing a strong top position – one that can completely flip matches – is an invaluable skill to have (especially in the takedown-rich state of Ohio where I reside).

“I love top position – but I was terrible from the top until I came here.  Now its my favorite position.”
-2022 State Placer and loyal member of The Crew

You can develop an entire system of wrestling on the mat – as well as on your feet – this summer (for youth, you can start to develop that complete system, its impossible for a youth wrestler to take it all in in such a short time, but starting down that path gives you a big leg up).


The first two skills this master coach taught

My good friend and coaching colleague, we’ll call him Tom (as his parents did), trained many state placers and champs throughout his 30+ years of coaching wrestlers – despite nearly all of them having never wrestled before they reached high school.

Let that sink in for a minute…

State placers, finalists and State Champs – all who had never wrestled prior to 9th grade.

It also goes without saying (although I’m saying it anyway), he wasn’t getting transfers moving in to his near-city-league school either.

Now THERE’S a master coach.  Anyone can look good coaching a roomful of all-stars.

I had the honor of coaching with him for a handful of years, and one day he revealed one of his biggest secrets to helping athletes jump levels quickly:  The first two things he taught beginning wrestlers.

I paraphrase:

I would teach beginning wrestlers two things right away:

  1. How to keep from getting pinned;
  2. How to PIN.

By teaching them how to fight off their backs, they could last longer in matches, meaning, more experience, meaning, getting better quicker.

Early on, their only chance of winning a match would be to catch someone on their backs and pin them. By teaching them how to pin, they would have a chance to win some matches and experience success – meaning they were more likely to stick around.

That last part can also be said for high level wrestlers competing in high level matches – or, wrestling someone who may be a few levels above you.

Your best opportunity to win may be Pinning them with methods I will be teaching at Thursday’s Pinner’s Paradise.

My inspiration for this event is the great Wade Schalles, the greatest Pinner the world of wrestling has ever known (I have talked bout him in numerous emails recently – look up a few I sent last week for instance).

You can register here and discover:

  • how to make your opponent want to QUIT – in multiple positions
  • The turn you’re only going to pin the top kids with (it won’t even work on lesser athletes)
  • The deadliest cradle in wrestling – and how to get to it multiple ways
  • The best way to counter a half, and why it won’t work on *this* devastating half
  • Rarely Taught – the power half from legs, “Randy-style” (You’ve likely never seen this variation taught anywhere else)

This event is open to all ages, but you have to submit an application and sign the waiver – especially sign the waiver, due to the inherent risks involved with some of the material being taught.  Also, you are strongly encouraged to bring a partner, so be sure to have them register as well.

If I were still coaching in college….

If I were still coaching in college….

Long long time ago, in a wrestling room far away, I coached on the collegiate level (for 15 years).

So recently, thanks to an invite from my good friend, let’s call him John like his parents did, I found myself at the Ohio State Buckeyes wrestling match.

And of course, the coach part of me looks at it from a slightly different perspective.

My perspective was, based on observations from that meet, if I were still coaching in college, here are some things I’d make sure to do…

One:   Run Cradles.  Specifically, run cradles because the tripod standup is so prevalent today in college wrestling.  I would guesstimate that at least half the wrestlers that night were using it.
And countering with a strong cradle taught with the necessary skills – would be rather easy.
Tripod stand ups are BEGGING for the return of the cradle (Keaton Anderson says ‘Hi’).

Two. I’d especially teach the Ohio boys how to get off the bottom position.
It always disappoints me to see how many from our state wrestle poorly on the mat – which leads to PA still being dominant at the collegiate level because in college, they let you ride so much more.  In fact, in college, it is absolutely critical to be able to escape from bottom.

Three (related).  I’d encourage the Ohioans to attend a strong Mat Wrestling camp in the summer – like our Mat Machine Camp.  You possess an enormous edge over most of the state if you excel on the mat.

Four (also related).  For the love of all that is wrestling, learn the fundamentals of shutting down leg riders.  While I recognize that the finer details of beating elite leg riders can be quite complex for wrestlers to grasp, the basic fundamentals really don’t take long to learn and can be taught rather quickly.

Five.  Funk is fun but most funk is countered rather handily with a few core skills.  Every collegiate wrestler should master these core skills to stopping their opponent’s funk.  They could immediately elevate their game by doing so.

Them’s my observations. 

winning the alpha wars page

Winning the Alpha Wars

Download your guide here

3 habits of highly effective training

Its time to start planning – IF you’re ready to have your best season yet,

Last night’s loyal crew at ACE got to experience first-hand how to squeeze the most out of a workout by embracing 3 simple habits:

#1. Snap to focus.   Also known as flipping the switch – as soon as practice begins.  Even better:  pre-planning your directed workout (a concept I talk about often in my room).

#2:  Close the gap, eliminate wasted time.  Getting the most out of your drilling time and your partner’s, means you are helping your partner improve, while your partner does the same for you.

#3:  Good reps – Every time.  Embrace the finer details of any technique – that’s where the magic happens.

Now’s the time you can commit to training that will take you further than ever before.

With this training, you get:

  • As many as 10 trainings per month
  • advanced training events
  • my personalized attention
  • my commitment to utilize every skill I’ve developed in my 35+ years of training athletes to give you the best possible opportunity to maximize your potential
  • a room of dedicated athletes, just like yourself, who, just like you, have committed to training here every week
  • weekly weight management guidance for all who need it
  • mental edge emphasis throughout the season
  • much more than I can mention today

Go here to learn more about it and secure your spot

Why Woody would’ve hated this

There’s one series the late great Wayne Woodrow “Woody” Hayes would NOT have approved of.

Woody was famous for this “3 yards and a cloud of dust” offense – running the ball with a full house backfield down the throats of opposing teams.

Woody did NOT like passing the ball.

He once said this about the forward pass…

“3 things can happen and 2 of them are bad.”

He would have disliked one specific turn in wrestling as well:

The guillotine.

With your typical guillotine leg ride, 3 things can happen there, too:

  • You turn the opponent
  • You get countered and reversed (possibly to your back)
  • You get called for potentially dangerous

Today, more than ever before, referees are making more potentially dangerous calls from this position to protect your opponent’s shoulder.

That’s a bummer if you worked your way to a position of advantage, just to end up giving your opponent a “fresh start.”

Woody would’ve hated that.

I can see him paraphrasing Meatloaf now:

2 out of 3 ain’t good.

Well, I altered this classic move – and made it “Woody safe”.

This version completely eliminates those two negatives – the reversal and the potentially dangerous.

Unlike the traditional guillotine, your opponent’s arm is never in danger of injury….

making the referee’s job a lot easier.

No Potentially dangerous.

Also – NO possibility of getting reversed or going to your back.

Those who attend my leg ride camp can learn this variation on the guillotine (among other things mentioned on this page)


Blowing things up

Here I am, blowing things up again.

Today, we blow up a common meme in wrestling, one that probably every wrestler has heard and been instructed to do, but that gets them broken beat and scarred (thanks Metallica) against the more skilled wrestlers.

That meme?

Explode off the whistle.

Those of you who are wrestling or have wrestled, be honest:  can any of you say you’ve never been told to explode from the bottom position?

Didn’t think so.

And yet, I learned from a young age just how effective that is(n’t) against a skilled top wrestler.

I’ll share this secret with you…

I train athletes to do the same and CRUSH the explode off the whistle wrestlers.

We just trained to stop it last week at ACE, in fact (and will undoubtedly review it this coming week as well).

This week, our focus:  Stop the Explosions, and adapt our Attack System ways, and approach, from the bottom position instead.

You can join us here if you haven’t already.