June 10, 2024 • CoachingWrestling

Practice formats for high school wrestling

The success of your scholastic wrestling program will depend largely on how well you prepare practice sessions from day to day. It is important to realize that your daily practices must evolve with the needs of the athletes participating in the program.

For example, if you are working with young and inexperienced wrestlers, you will need to spend more time on the perfection of fundamental techniques. After that, you can begin to move on to more advanced wrestling skills. 

Preseason and In-Season Practice Formats

Twrestlinghe following format demonstrates the similarities and differences between preseason and in-season practices. In both cases, daily practices should never last more than two hours. After that point, scholastic wrestlers tend to lose their ability to concentrate. 

  • Conditioning Warm-Up Exercises (10 to 15 minutes) These exercises should stress total-body flexibility, strength, and endurance. Such training will help prevent injuries. The same warm-up should be used for both preseason and in-season practices. 
  • Wrestling Drill Work (10 to 15 minutes) Passive to active drills involving skills and moves from all facets of wrestling are the priority during this phase of practice. Use this approach in both preseason and in-season practice. 
  • Step-by-Step Analysis of Wrestling Moves (10 to 15 minutes) In this phase, thoroughly demonstrate moves, then let the wrestlers practice the maneuvers’ essential parts step-by-step. Use this technique often in preseason practices but only when necessary during in-season practices. 
  • Wrestling Workout Sessions (30 to 60 minutes) The wrestling workout sessions should be much more intense during in-season practices when wrestler conditioning is at its peak. Preseason workouts should last about 30 minutes; in-season wrestling workout sessions should last for nearly an hour. During this time, divide the wrestlers into groups. While one group is wrestling, the other group is running and weight training. Thus, no one is standing around while others are wrestling. (If your wrestlers do lift weights, it should be every other day.)

    During the wrestling workout sessions, you should frequently stop wrestlers in the middle of the action with two purposes in mind. First, show the wrestlers how they are inadequately executing moves. Second, if necessary, demonstrate another move that would be more suitable for the same situation. Keep in mind that the wrestling workout sessions are the most important phase of in-season practices. 
  • Conditioning Finish Exercises (10 to 15 minutes) These end-of-practice exercises should be “snappy,” with emphasis on strength and endurance skills. This phase would be identical for both preseason and in-season practices. 

Never forget that as a coach, you are also a teacher. You should always entertain any responsible questions from your wrestlers regarding practice drills and moves. If a wrestler does not understand the significance of what he is doing, successful accomplishment of a maneuver will rarely be the result. The following are several teaching tips to ensure your practices are meaningful and produce winning results. 

Teaching New Moves 

When teaching a new move to your wrestlers, you should be able to do the maneuver flawlessly 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, you must 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. You could easily harm your wrestlers’ performance by showing a move you don’t know authoritatively. 

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The key to a championship wrestling program is how well you organize your daily practice drill and workout sessions to fit the needs of your wrestlers. It is also up to you to develop and enact well-rounded practice strategies that will be of the most benefit to your wrestlers.

A former Pennsylvania state champion and award-winning wrestling coach, Dr. Bill Welker has been selected as a “Master of Wrestling” by Wrestling USA Magazine. He also served as the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission Wrestling Rules Interpreter, Clinician, and Supervision of State Tournament Officials for 28 years and was a member of the NFHS National Wrestling Rules Committee from 2012 until 2015.