MAT TALK: Round robin wrestling one of many specialized workouts for grapplers

(Editor’s Note: This is the sixth 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.)

Round-robin wrestling is another action-packed workout. One advantage to round-robin wrestling is that the entire squad participates simultaneously. This routine involves the following procedure:

1 Divide the team into groups of ?ve wrestlers who weigh as close to each other as possible.

2. Assign a number from 1 to 5 to each wrestler in the group.

3. Wrestler 1 steps in the center of his group. He is given 30 seconds to score a takedown on each member of his group as follows:

4, If a takedown is scored in less than 30 seconds, the participants stand up and go at it again (and again) until time has expired.

5. Then wrestler 2 does the same with wrestlers 3, 4, 5, and 1. The process continues until everyone in the group has spent his time in the middle.

6. This round-robin session would include wrestling in the referee’s position, emphasizing escapes, reversals, rides, or pinning combinations.

7. The inactive wrestlers for each group may act as spotters, protecting the active wrestlers from going out of bounds or colliding with other pairs.

As you can visualize, round-robin wrestling consists of a very invigorating workout. The prime objectives are quite obvious: conditioning and further skill development.

Blindfold Wrestling

Blindfold wrestling is another beneficial practice innovation. The workout session is the same, with one exception: the wrestlers are blindfolded.

Though the wrestlers may be a little hesitant at first, they will soon realize that they really don’t need their eyes to wrestle.

Proper body positioning in wrestling is really a matter of feel, a sense of where you are or should be.

Of course, such mat sense can be achieved only via years of practice.

Blindfold wrestling is one workout medium a coach can implement to achieve this wrestler-oriented goal. The only props needed are blindfolds cut from old bed sheets. Following are a few basic guidelines for incorporating blindfold wrestling into your daily practices:

1. When first introducing the wrestlers to blindfold wrestling, blindfold only one of the wrestlers in each pair. The sighted wrestler will help stop his opponent when going out of bounds.

2. After both wrestlers have experienced being alternately blindfolded and feel comfortable with the technique, blindfold both of them.

3. To start in the neutral position, the two wrestlers will use the “finger- touch” method as described in Rule 6 of the NFHS Wrestling Rules Book.

This will also prepare the wrestlers should they ever have to compete against a wrestler with a vision impairment.

4. No variations are needed for the referee’s position, even if the optional offensive starting position is used.

5. The wrestlers must stay in continuous contact with each other throughout the entire workout.

Safety measures must be taken into consideration. First, there should be fewer wrestling pairs competing on the mats than usual during blindfold wrestling.

Second, those wrestlers waiting to work out must act as spotters, stopping their peers as they are about to go out of bounds.

Third, these wrestlers should also lead the blindfolded wrestlers back to their starting positions and restart them. Finally, the coach’s whistle must be the signal for all blindfolded wrestlers to stop immediately.

During a blindfold wrestling session, the coach should stop the wrestlers and ask them what they are experiencing.

The most common response will be that the wrestlers found themselves reacting to their opponents’ movements rather than thinking about what to do.

You will learn by watching whether your wrestlers are responding properly and swiftly enough, relying primarily on their sense of touch rather than sight. And as we all know, this tactile (or mat) sense is a characteristic observed in all champion wrestlers.

Wrestling Words of Wisdom

“Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well.”

– Stanhope

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