WIN ARTICLE #130 “A Freestyle and/or Greco Plan is a Plan for Improvement”


“A Freestyle and/or Greco Plan is a Plan for Improvement”
By: Ben Peterson

Spring is the best time for wrestlers to look for opportunities to get involved with freestyle and Greco, but any time is a good time to think through a plan to include it in your development. Wrestlers, coaches, and parents, have you sat down and made a written plan to include the international styles in your wrestling game plan?

So many American wrestlers never consciously decide to start doing the international styles. They may hear of the benefits but without someone prodding them, or ever doing any research, they never get started and never fully learn the sport or receive the benefits. Slowly their careers pass by without practicing, competing or even seeing freestyle or Greco.

Consciously decide to get involved: Everyone can benefit by stopping and thinking about this matter. I urge you to stop for a few minutes and simply research opportunities that are near you. Then simply make a workable plan to watch, learn (or teach) and compete in one or both of the styles.

Check wrestling periodicals and websites. Ask coaches, older teammates, the wrestlers that you hear are doing the international styles, and talk to other wrestling parents about what they have found and recommend.

Make a list: Then make a list of local practice sites like clubs, camps, and “open mats.” These will often practice one or more days a week. Look for special weekend wrestling retreats. Make a list of nearby tournaments. Research dates for Regional and State Championships. Find info about state teams that compete in national events. You don’t need to go to all of them. Be selective.

Ask others to join you: When needed, prepare to conduct your own practices. Invite others to join you for a freestyle or Greco practice. You only need two of you to practice any style or set of rules you want. That is what Dan Gable did. And it is what my brother John and I did. I thank God for them yet today, because they provided that invitation before I was strong enough personally to invite or include someone else in my training.

No matter where you find yourself, keep asking others until you find someone as interested as you. There are others interested in learning and improving. Ask about wrestlers in nearby schools. Wrestling is a great way to make new friends and you can improve wrestling in your entire area, not just your community.

A benefit: Do you know that folkstyle rules are influenced by the international styles? Regularly I hear talk of bringing freestyle ideas into American folkstyle. Learning international tilts advances your understanding of controlling your own body, especially your back. And it also teaches you to turn your opponent’s back in many more ways. So learn the style that may influence your style in the future.

Switching styles back and forth while training can greatly mature an athlete. It makes him think intently and not just coast mentally. It makes an athlete anticipate what his opponent might do and then respond in many new and diverse ways. Study and anticipate the sport from many angles. Your maturity and flexibility will increase so that a lot of fear of the new and unusual can be reduced. The more situations you know and are comfortable in, or know how to deal with, the better. Expand your comfort zone.

Though I am personally not in favor of American folkstyle changing to freestyle or Greco rules, I am in favor of adopting some concepts from them. For example, giving backpoints before control, I think, would expand folkstyle wrestling on the feet in several good ways. But full adoption of

freestyle or Greco in American schools and colleges would be very dangerous. US wrestling should not be controlled by international officials.

A Danger: A danger in all this is the tendency to get over confident, lackadaisical or even arrogant because you learn more positioning than others around you. Don’t let this happen to you! Learning something others do not know does not make us better than them, but it may show we have been blessed. And when we receive opportunities or advantages we should first be thankful and then second, help others. When we are an agent of humbly helping others and not just feeling like they are inferior, we raise our teammates and all those around us. I mention this because it may explain why some have a lot of extra wrestling experience, but they do not always advance a lot towards success themselves nor do those around them.

Get Better: I have often heard young wrestlers say they are not going to freestyle or Greco events because the good wrestlers are there, and they will get beat by them. I always agree with them, because a lot of good wrestlers attend those tournaments. But then I always ask, “How do you think they got so good?”

Open Doors: Freestyle and Greco “opens doors” for many things and not just if you win. My college story is just that. Coach Harold Nichols of Iowa State University saw me get beat 9-3 and called me two weeks later with an invitation to join his team. Years later I asked him why, he said, “I saw you score a takedown and put your opponent straight to his back. I liked that aggressiveness.” He saw something his coaching staff could sharpen over the next 4 years. That match is still opening doors for me to this day.

Today many doors are being opened by wrestlers making state teams that go to the Fargo Nationals. There is something about representing your school, your state, and even your nation that builds our confidence and causes others to take note. This creates even bigger opportunities. Every qualifier opens doors for himself, not just the champion.

Conclusion: Don’t short change yourself as a young wrestler. Do research regarding training opportunities near you where you can learn freestyle and Greco. List the opportunities near and far. Then select some that will help you build confidence and stretch you personally. You may open doors that bring benefits all your life.

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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