WIN ARTICLE #140 Balancing Stability & Explosion


Balancing Stability & Explosion
By Ben Peterson #140

Have you ever seen a wrestler who used his wrestling machine like an aggressive boy in a race car on a race track? He enjoys going fast, so he tries to go full speed all the time. He may be fine on the straight away but he will crash and burn at the corners. Many a wrestler has crashed and burned his wrestling machine in a similar fashion. What he needs to do is make several laps at a controlled pace until he knows just the speed to make the best turns.

As a first year coach at a small Bible college I recall finding myself frustrated with the diversity of my first team. Yes, I was impressed with their talent and desire, and they were all excited as most wrestlers are in the first days of the season. In many respects it was like a high school setting with many of them playing football or soccer. The distinctions of how these two sports affected these men became noticeable after a couple years of coaching them.

The soccer players were conditioned to go the full practice. They were fine with the 1½ hours of aggressive conditioning, drilling, continuous wrestling and more conditioning that I led them through. But most of the soccer players found it hard to fully explode their wrestling machines. They could move and adjust freely throughout practice but they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, increase their pace and/or explode when their situation required it. These men learned new techniques well and progressed well in the early days of the season, but often lost close matches that I thought they could win with “a little more effort.” They failed to finish the deal too many times. I kept encouraging them but wondered why they would not increase their pace.

Most of the football players had the opposite issue. They came into the first practices all excited with the new season and ready to “score now and score big.” Even during my technique instruction and drilling they were exploding to the max. I got excited thinking they would be outstanding wrestlers right away. I have never seen men with bigger hearts for competition, which is why I stayed at that college for 28 seasons. When we went to hard wrestling the football players were exhausted in 10 minutes. The rest of practice they went back and forth between catching their breath and then exploding into exhaustion again. Various injuries began to appear. They were pulling muscles, cutting eyebrows and straining joints to both themselves and others.

Because I did not fully understand what was happening I failed to control their pace, so the injuries continued and began to wear down their bodies, their confidence, and their motivation. Today I still recall a couple very gifted and greatly motivated football players losing their confidence and their fight, and slowly talking themselves out of wrestling.

With time I began to understand what was happening and made simple but definite adjustments to address these 2 extremes. For the first week of November practice I started with flexibility and conditioning for warmups. Then we drilled but under control at all times. Then we wrestled for a few minutes before I sent the football players to the showers. Each day we immersed them into more continuous but controlled wrestling until the football players were under control and the soccer players had learned to explode.

Today I work with a D3 NCAA University Team (U. WI Whitewater.) I still see the same issues I faced as a rooky coach. This surprised me at first, because we have no 2 sport athletes. Following are additional reasons that cause the imbalanced use of stability and explosion in wrestling:
1. Genetically some explode faster and easier than others.
2. Genetically some have a higher level of natural condition.
3. Some are fearless by nature to explode.
4. Some have become fearless by experience and are anxious to explode.
5. Others are reticent and even fearful to fail and lose and so they hold back.
6. Various previous activities can prepare or urge athletes to explode or stay safe. If they exploded out of control in high school they will do it in college until they learn otherwise.

Recommendations to balance stability and explosion in preseason:
1. Talk openly about it with wrestlers and coaches.
2. Start the fall season with controlled drilling.
3. Introduce wrestling at a controlled pace and some even playful pace.
4. Slowly encourage longer and harder wrestling.
5. Regularly run a hard mile (or longer).
6. Lift steady & controlled to solidify positions. Explode on a few lifts and introduce burnouts.

Recommendations to balance stability and explosion in early season:
1. Talk openly about it with wrestlers and coaches.
2. Continue much controlled drilling.
3. Do a lot of wrestling at a controlled pace and a little at a playful pace.
4. Slowly encourage longer and harder wrestling.
5. Regularly run a hard one mile (or longer).
6. Lift steady & controlled to solidify positions with some explosion and burnouts.

Recommendations to balance stability and explosion in mid-season:
1. Continue to talk about it with wrestlers and coaches.
2. Increase intensity of drills and repeat often.
3. Continue a lot of hard wrestling with a bit at a playful pace.
4. Regularly run a hard mile and finish with a handful of sprints.
5. Reduced steady controlled lifting with occasional explosions and very occasional burnouts (away from competitions).

Recommendations to address these issues during season ending tournaments:
1. Encourage wrestlers to regularly adjust their pace and use both stability and explosion.
2. Continue intensity of drills and repeat them often.
3. Continue hard wrestling with some days shorter and continue some at a playful pace.
4. Each week run a hard mile and finish with a handful of sprints.
5. Continue lifting with a few explosions but reduce the number of reps you lift.

Discussing and addressing stabilized conditioning and explosion with your wrestlers and adjusting their training will help every wrestler avoid injury and burnout and will help them reach their full potential on the mats.

Find other articles and the book called “ROAD TO GOLD” by Ben at: Today Ben & John Peterson run Camp of Champs Wrestling Retreats. Contact them at: PO Box 222 Watertown, WI 53094 920-918-0542

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