(Editor's Note: This is the second 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.)
Effective practices include the proper teaching of new moves, knowing when the wrestlers seem "stale," and how to incorporate both cooperation and competition during drill and workout sessions.
Teaching New Moves
When teaching a new move to your wrestlers, you should be able to do the maneuver ?awlessly yourself. A step-by-step analysis of the move is your best approach. Emphasize those aspects of the maneuver that make it effective in competition.
Also, it is imperative that you stress why a move should be drilled in a certain manner, and what could happen if it is not. The more profound understanding your wrestlers have regarding the purpose behind each move, the easier it will be for them to master it.
The adept wrestling coach never attempts to demonstrate a move he does not fully understand. There is no shame in admitting to your wrestlers that you will need to do some research involving a certain wrestling skill. Your athletes will respect this course of action much more than if you feign knowledge of a move. In fact, you could easily harm your wrestlers' performance by showing a move you don't know authoritatively.
Staleness in practice may be de?ned as that time in the season when the wrestlers appear sluggish and seem to be regressing in their wrestling skills. This phenomenon usually occurs midway through the season. Two courses of action may be taken to alleviate the problem: First, give your wrestlers a day off from practice. This will revitalize their attitudes and focus their thoughts. Second, devote one practice to an activity the wrestlers will enjoy that is completely unrelated to wrestling. For example, they might play a game of crab soccer or have an arm-wrestling tournament during practice, and then be sent home for the day. (Refer to chapter 8 for additional conditioning activities for allaying staleness.)
Promoting Practice Cooperation and Competition
Cooperation and competition are both intricate aspects of a successful and productive wrestling program. Cooperation may take the form of the more experienced wrestlers helping novice wrestlers correctly drill the many wrestling skills that need to be learned. Also, various drills entail a cooperative effort, where one wrestler offers the proper resistance for correct drill performance.
Of course, the most important element for producing championship programs is practice competition. The more a wrestler is pushed in practice, the better he will perform in dual meets and tournaments. Without question, the promotion of a competitive spirit within your daily workout sessions can never be overemphasized.
I feel it is very dif?cult to distinguish the difference between cooperation and competition within the practice setting. When you have developed a competitive attitude in your team, each member will complement the others by exhibiting maximum effort at practice. In other words, two practice partners, competitively motivated, are cooperating with each other by pushing each other and striving to be the best.
Just as cooperation and competition are important factors in the classroom, the same should be true in the practice room as well. There are many classroom strategies and techniques that can and should be incorporated into your daily practice sessions. Your wrestling program must include the following:
* Well-structured practice plans
* Competent demonstrations of drilling moves by the coach
* Knowledge of how to combat practice staleness
* An understanding of the relationship between cooperation and competition within the realm of daily practices
The astute wrestling coach must be fully aware and understand the significance of the above components to create a practice environment that is beneficial to all the participants.
Wrestling Words of Wisdom
"No man can think clearly when his fists are clinched."
G. J. Nathan
(Dr. Bill Welker it can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions you might have.)