Thoughts on specialized mat workouts

(Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of ten columns to promote successful high school wrestling room practices that will assist in developing championship wrestling programs. It will be beneficial to middle school and youth coaches as well.)

You will sometimes want to incorporate “specialist wrestling workouts” that add variation to the traditional wrestling session, and also enhance skill development. In part one, situation wrestling is discussed in detail. This strategy was not only taught to me by my high school coach, the late Mal Paul, but also by Ohio Valley’s multi-sport and wrestling legend, the late Coach George Kovalick.

Situation Wrestling

Situation wrestling is usually incorporated during the season. It is much like a regular workout session with one exception: the wrestlers are placed in various wrestling positions and begin wrestling from that point. As with typical wrestling workouts, the coach should periodically stop the wrestlers to demonstrate what they are doing wrong.

There is a twofold purpose for including situation wrestling in daily practice sessions. First, you can use the strategy to work on new moves and to demonstrate how they should be performed during real wrestling situations.

The second rationale for adding situation wrestling to practice plans involves the scouting phase of coaching. While scouting rival teams, the coach often observes certain moves that members of these squads use the most to score points. Wisely, the coach will place his wrestlers in these various move situations, having them counter the maneuvers in preparation for an upcoming dual meet or tournament. This wrestling strategy has been very successful over the years.

Let’s now consider two examples of situation wrestling-one for perfecting new moves and the other to prepare for competition.

Drilling a New Move

The coach has just completed demonstrating the standing suicide switch reversal maneuver. At this point, the wrestlers perform the maneuver in the following manner:

1 After standing up, the bottom wrestler fakes a standing switch, turning from one side to the other.

2 Then the bottom wrestler drops forward to the mat head ? rst.

3 Finally, just before the bottom wrestler’s head hits the mat, he executes a quick hip-heist switch, scoring the reversal.

After the wrestlers passively perform the move, the coach then places the wrestlers in the standing position and blows the whistle. With the top wrestler resisting fully, the bottom wrestler is given 15 seconds to complete the standing suicide switch. This is an all-out burst of wrestling effort by both wrestlers, with the coach periodically stopping the action to correct mistakes.

Drilling for Competition

When scouting the next dual meet opponent, the coach learns that the majority of opposing wrestlers are very pro?cient at scoring double-leg takedowns.

At practices leading up to the meet, the coach places the wrestlers in the neutral position. The coach teaches the double leg counter. He then instructs the attacking team members to deeply penetrate the opponents’ defense, clamping their hands around the knees for the double leg takedown.

On the whistle, the wrestlers defend themselves from the double-leg takedown with the counter taught.

This process continues until all practice partners have demonstrated the ability to properly counter the double-leg takedown.

Situation wrestling will greatly enhance the skill level of all team members. Do not fail to make it part of your workout repertoire.

In part two, you will be exposed to “round-robin wrestling” and “blindfold wrestling” and how they benefit the participants.

Wrestling Words of Wisdom

“He who has learned to obey will know how to command.”

– Solon

(Dr. Bill Welker it can be reached by e-mail at for any questions you might have.)