WIN Article #118 Spring Pruning for Wrestlers!


Spring Pruning for Wrestlers!
By Ben Peterson

Every spring I must do some pruning in my yard. If I don’t, I regret it. There are two apple trees, five grape vines, raspberries, a few trees, various decorative bushes and a small garden. On a regular basis I am trimming all of them. Some need it once a year, others more often and others less often. If I don't prune them the growth creates clutter and takes too much energy from the plant. If left alone the result will be less fruit and smaller fruit.

1. Good wrestlers regularly need some pruning.
As a wrestler keeps learning and progressing, his training will naturally add a lot of knew ideas. There becomes a need to major on select techniques, key positions, and the most practical training tactics. Good wrestlers keep learning moves, learning new training drills, and finding value in more intense conditioning tactics. So if coaches and athletes do not thoughtfully streamline their training from time to time they may labor with a cluttered training schedule that fatigues them. Often during the season a simplifying of drills, moves and methods is necessary. Overgrowth happens. When coaches see training time expanding and the wrestlers becoming weary then it is time to cut something out. Wrestling requires pruning, so refine your techniques as the season progresses. Intensify the use of a few moves.

There is value in learning as many moves as possible. But be careful of trying to learn so much that you cannot or do not perfect one or two moves for each position. Everyone needs to specialize on and perfect some of what they are learning. You can't and don't need to know everything fully. A key position and technique in each situation must be perfected on the feet, on top, and on the bottom. A wise student-athlete looks for the God-given skill they have and sharpens it while trimming back things that can distract. Learn all you can about a lot of areas, but in the end, "seek to do your best in what you do best."

2. Types of Pruning
a. Water spouts: My apple trees always grow branches that shoot straight up. That growth never bears fruit. They take energy from the root and they shade the tree from the sun. Every year they must be cut off.

Do you find yourself thinking of how you look to the fans, the coach, or the cheerleaders? Now I am all for showing class and professionalism on the mat. But undue concern of how we look can be a major draw of energy and thought. We need to focus on the match itself. Be sure your uniform, shoes and headgear are ready ahead of time so all attention can be on winning the match. Also work to eliminate superstitious thoughts and anything that distracts your thoughts from focusing on the match.

b. Sun blocking growth: Some branches can block the sun from getting in to those that produce the most. They must be cut off or at least cut back significantly. Again, what is taking the attention and energy from what really scores for you? Big moves like headlocks are meant for very seldom use against quality opponents. If you put your confidence on one or two big moves that seem cool you will lose the important matches with the better wrestlers. What produces big in wrestling? Singles and doubles are always on the top of the list.

I am in favor of having extra tricks in your pocket to surprise opponents and to keep our hopes alive. But to put too much hope on the big move will not win against the experienced and patient wrestlers that stay in position. They will be scoring points while we are waiting to set up our favorite big move.

c. Two branches taking the same spot. To get the best fruit sometimes I need to decide between two branches. They may both be good branches to bear fruit, but they will be fighting each other for the same space. One must go. We need to choose between good wrestling training tactics. You can’t use them all at once.

3. Difficulty in Pruning.
a. Fear of hurting the tree. When I first started pruning our apple trees I was greatly afraid of over pruning. Sometimes when we have a small harvest I feel like I went over board on pruning. But almost without fail, the next year is an extra good crop. My good friend, Bryce, who grows a lot of fruit trees, tells me, "The tree wants to produce fruit. You really cannot stop it, just don't kill it."

It will hurt to prune your wrestling. Some moves and situations have become your favorites. But if you are going to take the next step you need to get rid of the grade school moves and major on what works in high school, or what is needed to win in college or freestyle and Greco.

b. It is work to cut the big branches. Yes, the water spouts are easy - a hand pruner will do that. Bigger branches need a hand saw. But eventually I just need to get the sawsall and go at the big stuff. It is work and I have to be reminded of the value of pruning.

A grade school headlock that pinned all those grade schoolers is not going to do the same in high school or college. You need to make the adjustments. Keep those “big” grade school moves as surprises in your back pocket. And force yourself to learn what works on the next level.

I still recall a two time state champion coming to Iowa State doing almost headlocks exclusively. The coaches and the upper classmen began working to make him learn other things before he got discouraged. For three weeks of practice he headlocked a lot of us once, twice and maybe three times. But our national championship team had learned to counter a headlock. Pretty soon he could not catch anyone with it. By Christmas he was too discouraged to continue. In his mind he felt it was the only branch he had to grow fruit on and it was not producing. We were unable to get him to adjust to other tactics. Pruning may not show its benefits immediately, but it will as long as you don’t lose hope and quit.

So whatever time of the season it is, consider what needs to be pruned from your wrestling. You naturally want to learn and improve. So eliminate the distractions, the overlaps, what is taking energy but not producing real results. Thoughtfully simplify but keep working hard and set the stage for big gains in the future. And remember, proper pruning produces the biggest and the most.

Find other articles and a new book called “ROAD TO GOLD” by Ben at: Today Ben & John Peterson run Camp of Champs Wrestling Camps Contact them at: PO Box 222 Watertown, WI 53094 800-505-5099

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