Quick Iterations Keep it Interesting

July 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Coaches Corner

Unless you’ve got the personality (and the skills) of Mean Gene Mills, it can sometimes be hard to keep your wrestlers’ attention when teaching. This is a tip we picked up from Sammy Chagolla when he came to do a clinic for us.

Rather than explain a move (especially a complicated one) from beginning to end and trying to cover all the key points at once, do a quick demo of the move, highlight the most important things, then cut the wrestlers loose for a few reps. Since you didn’t cover everything, they’ll probably make a lot of mistakes or get stuck on one point or another. That’s OK. Let them drill a few reps, then bring the group back in, emphasize just one or two teaching points, then send them back for more reps. You can end up doing this five or six times (or more) but it doesn’t take any more time than teaching the “normal” way and helps keep the wrestlers engaged.


One Response to “Quick Iterations Keep it Interesting”
  1. JWS says:

    That style of teaching is common in Russia, I hear. It allows kids to make the move their own since some don’t have the same attributes as the person teaching (different size, flexibility, strength, quickness, etc.). It frees the kids to be active rather than fear a mistake and be passive.

    That said, learning the moves in these phases (whether teaching the move backwards or forwards) works well for most kids: (1) Feel Speed (as slow as needed to do the move right); (2) Rhythm & Tempo (putting it all together but at a speed that allows them to keep good technique); (3) Drill Speed (realistic but not full speed); and (4) Match Speed.

    Also, making both wrestlers responsible for the move helps both to learn faster. The “A wrestler” is the “A”ction wrestler, responsible for executing the move right. The “B wrestler” is the quality control, responsible for making them both “B”etter. B must give a good feel — not too hard and not too soft — and must make sure that A is doing the move right.

    The coach can then coach the B wrestler on how to correct flaws in A’s technique. The A wrestler hears everything the coach would have told A if the coach had been talking to A but doesn’t feel like the coach is criticizing him/her. B becomes a better partner and pays attention better because he/she is responsible for the group’s success.

    Finally, acknowledging what B has coached correctly while suggesting ways to make it even better, encourages B to keep doing good work (“You just coached him well enough to make him the league champ — the set up, level change, and penetration were excellent. You want A to be a state champ so the finish needs to be as good as the rest. Here’s how to improve A’s finish. [demonstrate] Let me hear you coach him through it.”

    Finally (again), if A & B are paying attention and trying hard but aren’t doing the move right, accept that you, as the coach, did not teach it well enough or are trying to teach a technique that is too advanced for the wrestlers. (“I didn’t explain it well enough or this move would be working for you. Let me try again.”)