Dec. WIN Article # 106 Wrestling with Extreme Fatigue


Wrestling with Extreme Fatigue
By Ben Peterson #106

Sooner or later every developing wrestler will find themselves pushed to their limit by a coach’s conditioning drills, a workout partner or some opponent. When we are pushed past our limits we will experience “hitting the wall.” At first, we wonder if we will live through it.
At this point we must make a choice. Will we quit? Will we let our opponent break us? Or will we fight back, slowly and in position? To keep going we must learn to adjust. The following 7 principles have been huge thoughts for me in dealing with extreme fatigue while practicing and competing.

1. Never Leave Position.
During all activities of training and competition, position is the first and most important need. There is a time in every wrestler’s career where they are so fatigued they will need all of their energy just to keep position. We must each learn to do so.
Keeping position can avoid a sudden loss by pin. So when all energy to fight is spent, holding a basic protected controlled position must be sought to avoid being pinned and being defeated instantly.

2. Don’t Become Vulnerable.
During any activity there is a need to keep all parts of your body safe. When extreme fatigue becomes a factor the most vulnerable parts of our body must be protected.
Our back is more protected than our front. If something is flying at us, we don’t look at it. Instead, we instinctively turn our back and crouch down to protect our face, neck, chest and groin. Avoiding injury becomes our most focused goal.
When extreme fatigue becomes our status, we must put major thought and energy toward avoiding injury, or minimize the injury so that the battle is not ended suddenly in a pin, injury, or both. Until young wrestlers learn this they are very vulnerable to an older and more experienced opponent.

3. Maintain a Small Precious Space
When on your feet, the space right in front of you becomes the battle ground for hand control. If we control it, then we can work to expand that space and more completely control our opponent and put him under us in that space below our chest and hips.
Good riding includes controlling our opponent in the space just in front of us and in the front of him. If we control that space it will be easier to control him.
If we are on the bottom we start by controlling the space in front of our chest and stomach. With hand control, we can seek a roll that puts us on top of our opponent and maybe our opponent on his back with us controlling his precious space. Controlling his hands on a standup keeps him from locking his hands while we expand our precious space. The same is true for switches and sit-outs. We avoid his control of our precious space and we expand that space by moving and turning until we have freedom or are on top of him.

4. Be Patient and Your Energy will Return
Years ago, an old coach told our national team that, “Three deep breaths can restore your breathing to normal, if you are in shape.” That statement motivated me to get in really great shape, and not to quit when fatigue gripped my body. I learned to slow down for a few seconds and let the body recover. Then I could return to controlled aggressive movements once again to pursue victory by exposing my opponent while protecting myself.

5. Avoid Repeating the Same Things that Failed Before
Wrestlers are some of the most determined competitors I have ever seen. Wrestlers learn that continued efforts can often bring success, so we just keep trying. Repeated battering at our opponent’s defense can and will often bring success. But, I have also seen wrestlers continue to try the same thing and fail the same way each time. They will continue to fail unless they are able to fatigue their opponent or bring some new threat.
Einstein defined insanity as, “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
We should consider at least a small adjustment in each new attempt as we look for a way to improve our position.

6. Avoid “Breaking” all at Once.
One of the things I find in every successful competitor is the ability to adjust his pace and keep trying to find a way to win. One mistake, a shift in momentum, a bad call or a limiting injury does not remove his drive and willingness to continue. “Champions find a way!”
Keep your hope alive. A huge disappointment to me is to watch a wrestler stop training or competing when extreme fatigue becomes a factor. But, continued efforts excite me as a coach and fan. The way I express this is: “A conditioned muscle tied to a determined mind will not die suddenly.”
Fast-twitch muscle may fatigue and need to be refreshed, but conditioned slow-twitch muscle can keep going all day. Farmers during harvest and marathon runners have proven that the body can continue working for hours and hours. We must learn to limit the use of speed but keep moving and keep trying. Young wrestlers will benefit greatly by learning this.

7. Stay Alive for Another Try.
Life gives us many chances to try and to learn. Wrestling and life are made up of many experiences that stretch our resolve to succeed. As we fight back and keep trying, we find many opportunities are repeatedly provided for us. Why would we give up and quit when God so graciously gives us seconds, minutes, hours, days and years to enjoy and learn. Yes, life can be hard and a wrestling match can be extremely challenging, but staying alive and seeking victory while fatigued is a huge blessing and positive experience.
Don’t check out and quit too soon or when things seem really difficult. Keep your hopes alive for whatever opponent you have. Many more opportunities are ahead of us and will be for as long as God gives us more time to live. So let us keep stretching ourselves to increase our condition and win our competitions.

I listed the above 7 principles for wrestlers and all those close to the sport. Each season brings many challenges. These principles can help us improve and enjoy the challenges we face. We must all work to stay in position, stay protected, expand that protection, get in shape, stay patient until energy returns and keep trying new ways. Don’t give up in a match or in life. Keep your hopes alive and strong. And best wishes for many small successes that add up to big victories!

You can find other articles by Ben at these web sites: & Today Ben & John run Camp of Champs Wrestling Camps and are frequent guest speakers for numerous special events. Arrange them for your special event by contacting them at: PO Box 222 Watertown, WI 53094; 800-505-5099 or

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