How to Organise Wrestling Practice All Season

Wrestling requires much from its participants, not only in terms of physical exertion, but also in self-discipline and self-sacrifice.

It is our belief that we must use every minute of practice time to maximum efficiency if we are to totally prepare the wrestlers.

We use periods of instruction that allow the wrestlers to recuperate, so they can get the most out of periods of exertion. Even during our periods of drill instruction, resistance is used to allow the wrestlers to get a true feel of the holds they are working on.


We begin our first week of practice with explanations of team rules and regulations and of what wrestling is all about. We make clear what will be expected of all our candidates in the weeks to come and emphasize the need for hard work and dedication, as well as getting into and staying in shape.


First workouts involve running, jumping rope, and familiarizing wrestlers with the positions and stances they will be using on the mat, as well as the drills we will be using in the early going.

We also include explanations and demonstrations of illegal and potentially dangerous holds.

NOTE: We feel this is an important part of early instruction, so that bad habits don’t have a chance to form. If these holds are shown early, wrestlers can be careful with their use in practice and avoid costly injuries.

I am a firm believer in starting the wrestlers down on the mat early in the year to allow them to learn to fall and roll correctly. This gives them more confidence when they start wrestling from a standing position.

Here is a sample schedule we might follow for the first few days of the season. After the first day, explanation of stances and illegal holds would be replaced by periods of instruction and conditioning.


3:15 to 3:30

Meet with candidates and explain team rules and what is expected of them. Outline the objectives of the sport and what they can expect from you.

3:30 to 3:40

Warm-ups, including: (1) side-straddle hop, (2) stretch between the legs, (3) trunk rotation, (4) push-ups, done slowly in sets of 10, (5) sit-ups, bent-knee type on 4-count, (6) sit-ups, abdominal-twisting type on 2-count, (7) neck bridges, front and back.

3:40 to 3:45

Run the “train” for ½ mile, alternating sprint and jog.

3:45 to 3:55

Introduce wrestlers to referee’s position and get each wrestler into both the top and bottom positions to find what seems comfortable to them.

3:55 to 4:05

Introduce wrestlers to standing position, stressing impor- 148 Use Every Minute of Your Wrestling Practices tance of developing a good stance. Again, we try to let wrestlers be as comfortable as possible. Let them get the feel of moving side to side and forward and back, without losing their stance or crossing their feet.

4:05 to 4:15

First demonstrate illegal holds, making sure the wrestlers understand the penalties for using them. Then show potentially dangerous holds and emphasize that the man using the hold is responsible for his opponent’s safety.

4:15 to 4:20

Have two of last year’s wrestlers perform a short exhibition match to demonstrate match procedures, how points are awarded and why. Stop the match at intervals to fully explain what has gone on and points awarded.

4:20 to 4:30

Introduce the basic drills that the wrestlers will be using during the early part of the year. For us, these are:

I. Spin drill: This teaches wrestlers to work for position behind the opponent and teaches the defensive man to prevent this from happening.

NOTE: Down man cannot use hands, but can use lateral movement in defensing the spin. Up man can use hands to try to get position.

2. Ride the horse: Teaches the wrestler to maintain good position behind his opponent as the defensive man moves quickly around the mat trying to escape. Done in rounds of 30 seconds each.

3. Drop step: Drills the fundamentals of penetrating on leg takedowns. We usually do at least 100 of these per day, in addition to other work we may do on takedowns.

4:30 to 4:40

Let the wrestlers pair up (by size) and wrestle down on the mat. This is to acquaint each athlete with the feel of the mat and to get him familiar with wrestling positions and match procedure. Lasts about two minutes each.

4:40 to 4:50

Run the wall. Space wrestlers along the wall, leaning on wall with outstretched arms, and have them run in place. Three minutes. We vary the pace and emphasize high knee lift. Then pair up wrestlers and have them jump rope 300 times.

After a day or two of this indoctrination, we begin our more concentrated type of practice.


3:15 to 3:25

Warm-up period led by team captains. We use the same basic exercise group we used the first day, but increase speed and repetitions.

NOTE: We emphasize sharpness and execution from the very beginning, to remove any tendency toward being sloppy or lackadaisical.

3:25 to 3:55

Takedown drills: (1) drop steps, at least 100, (2) single-leg and at least one counter, (3) double-leg and at least one counter, (4) fireman’s carry and at least one counter.

3:55 to 4:20

Takedown wrestling. Wrestlers pair up for 30-second takedowns. Each pair must go eight times, with each boy getting as many takedowns as possible in 30 seconds. Unless a pin is imminent, they get right up and start again after each takedown.

4:20 to 4:45

Reversal and escape drills: (1) outside switch and at least one counter, (2) inside switch and at least one counter, (3) stand-up and at least one counter.

4:45 to 5:15

Breakdown and pin drills: (1) tight waist series and counters, (2) head lever series and counters, (3) crossface series and counters, (4) nelson series and counters, (5) cradle series and counters.

5:15 to 6:00

Wrestle down on mat: (1) one-minute sprint round, (2) three-minute round, (3) 30-second sprint.

NOTE: This period may be lengthened considerably as a conditioner in the early going or over the holidays.

6:00 to 6:10

Run the wall and continuous movement. Once the wrestlers are spaced along the wall, they are called onto the mat in groups of four. While those on the wall run, those on the mat chain-wrestle for 30 seconds. Each man must move at maximum speed. The four on the mat return to the wall during a jog interval and four more take their place.

NOTE: This can be repeated and the intervals varied as needed.


Make announcements and pack it in. COACHING OBJECTIVES Through our practices, we try to give each boy a selection of holds he feels comfortable using and has confidence in.

Next we try to expose the wrestler to as many on-the-mat situations as possible. We try to arrange for each of our wrestlers to face opponents in practice who use varied styles of wrestling and have different body types.

We also work hard to get the wrestler in the best possible condition.

Our wrestlers must have the endurance to chain-wrestle (move continuously) the entire last period, if necessary.


When we are preparing for post-season tournaments, we usually modify our regular schedule, since we need to handle fewer and more experienced wrestlers. We try to stress technique, and keep just enough conditioning work to keep the edge on them.

NOTE: Chart I illustrates a typical pre-tournament practice.

We have found that this type of end-of-season practice allows the wrestler to maintain his endurance, and also allows him to recover from a long season and any minor hurts he may have.

3:15 to 3:25 — Warm-ups

3:25 to 3:45 — Takedown drills 3:45 to 4:00 — Takedown wrestling 4:00 to 4:20 — Escape & reversal drills 4:20 to 4:40 — Breakdown & pin drills 4:40 to 5:00 — Wrestle down on mat

(1) 30-sec. Sprint

(2) 2-min round

(3) 30-sec. Sprint

(4) 2-min. Round 5:00 to 5:05 — Run wall & continuous movement 5:05 Make announcements;

go in

Chart I: Pre-Tournament Practice


We have found that it’s necessary to spend quite a bit of time early in the season on developing skills. This usually entails extensive use of drills and situation wrestling.

NOTE: We usually teach new moves “by the numbers” and build speed as the steps of the move are mastered.

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