Teaching Takedowns

June 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Coaches Corner

Here are a few random tips for teaching takedowns that we’ve learned over the years and incorporated into our practices:

Face of a Clock
This is a tip we learned from Steve Knight at Excel Wrestling. When teaching takedowns, we teach attacks to zones based on the face of clock. For example, when facing him, your opponent’s left leg is 5 o’clock, his right is 7 o’clock, his left shoulder (for a duck-under, for example) is 1 o’clock, etc. Besides simplifying communication with our wrestlers, the other benefit is that the wrestlers can choose their favorite technique to the particular attack zone.

If one wrestler likes a high-crotch to 5 o’clock, but another prefers a sweep single, it doesn’t matter when we’re drilling or competing. When we practice, we simply drill “5 o’clock attack” and the wrestler chooses the technique they’re most comfortable with. This lets us accommodate different styles while still having the whole team working on (more or less) the same thing.

Left & Right Doesn’t Matter
Back when I was wrestling, we always drilled every technique to both sides. It seems many coaches at the advanced level have abandoned this and we have too. A wrestler certainly needs attacks to all attack zones, but his 5 o’clock and 7 o’clock attacks don’t both need to be the same skill. In fact, there are some good reasons why they shouldn’t be the same skill. This also applies to pinning combinations and escapes. A wrestler should develop the skills that best suits their style and comfort level. It doesn’t matter that that the left side and right side moves are different.

Teach the Finish First
This is something Matt picked up from Terry Steiner at one of his Hawaii clinics. Conventional wisdom has been to teach setup-penetration-finish, in that order. Terry contends that when a takedown is countered (at all levels), the attacker is usually stuck working for the finish. Since this is the phase of the takedown where a wrestler is likely to spend most of his time, we should emphasize it as we develop his skills. At the beginning of the year, when we start reviewing our fundamental takedowns, we first teach what a good finish position looks & feels like, and do all of our drilling starting from that position. Later on, we back up and start drilling setups & penetrations. Our ability to finish takedowns dramatically improved when we adopted this teaching sequence.

I’m sure others have come across some great tips for teaching takedowns. Please comment below and share your ideas!

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