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BASE Wrestling uses non-traditional methods to train, develop wrestlers

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BASE Wrestling is a system developed by Olympic freestyle wrestlers Jake Herbert and Andy Hrovat to test and teach the natural wrestling progression. It combines athleticism, drilling, flexibility, live wrestling, and world-class technique to set up wrestling clubs and wrestlers with the foundation to be successful on and off the mat.

Here are five tactics used by BASE Wrestling that coaches at all level of wrestling could incorporate.

Move teaching to end of practice

BASE Wrestling believes it’s important to start a wrestling practice with a warmup (see below) and get right into live wrestling. After the wrestlers have expended energy through the warmup and live wrestling, then teaching takes place.

Not only have the wrestlers expended more energy and are more focused, but the coach has a better understanding of what to focus the teaching on.

“If a single leg finish is one of the things that you have on your agenda to teach during practice, you can see how the kids are finishing their single legs,” Hrovat said in a video posted to the Base Wrestling site. “Now when you get to the teaching part you can instruct them by telling them, ‘I watched you guys do things this way, and now we are going to do it this way in order to better learn and better understand the sport.'”

Encourage pre-practice playtime

The practice room should be prepared 15 minutes before practice begins. The mats should be down, cleaned and ready to be used. Pre-practice playtime should be encouraged in the 15 minutes leading up to the start of practice. It’s a time for wrestlers to play a game, work on their cartwheels or flips, hang out with each other and just be kids.

“We want them in there playing and being active, starting to burn a little bit of that energy,” said Herbert. “This causes a little bit of chaos, which is great because that is all the wrestling room is … you’re organizing chaos.”

Another benefit to pre-practice playtime is it encourages wrestlers to show up to practice early to enjoy the open room, fun time.

“You want to make sure the kids are enthusiastic and excited to be in the wrestling room, especially before practice,” said Herbert. “Once you’re ready to start, you’ve got to blow the whistle. Now you’ve got to form control.”

Focus on getting four specific things out of practice

In addition to obeying the rules of the wrestling room, there are four things BASE Wrestling preaches getting out of a practice.

1. Learn one new thing every practice: This could be a new leg attack, throw, setup, counter … just one new thing, not 10 new things.

2. End practice better than you started: It’s important for wrestlers to make gains every practice, even if those gains are small. Your future self should be able to beat you.

3. Help someone in the practice room do the first two: By helping someone learn one new thing and get better, you’re bringing the whole group up together.

4. Have fun: This is the most important rule. Because it’s wrestling practice, you have to have fun.

“Now think about those four things,” said Herbert. “They’re learning. They’re ending practice better. They’re helping someone else do the same. And they’re having fun doing it. I verbally tell them this every single practice. That is creating what we call a growth mindset. This is a huge thing because if you do this every single day, you’re going to end up being very successful at whatever it is you’re going to do, regardless if that’s wrestling, schoolwork, English … You want to start installing this mentality.”

Herbert says it’s important for the coaches to not only say it to their wrestlers every day, but have the wrestlers verbalize it back.

Use athletic warmup

The athletic warmup has been developed with a dual purpose: to build athleticism and prep wrestlers for the day’s practice. It has over 60 different movements and motions and has been developed some of the world’s top wrestling and strength and conditioning coaches.

The athletic warmup is broken into four sections: jogging, tumbling, stretching and wrestling skills.

Jogging: It’s used to get everyone moving, not just forward and backwards, but in every single direction. The four main points to hit on are hopping on one leg, lowering levels, exploding up and foot fire.

Tumbling: Get wrestlers going from their feet, rolling down to the mat and rolling back to their feet. The goal is to be able to accomplish it with control. It’s a way to help develop agility. It starts easy with rolling and gets progressively more difficult with flipping.

Stretching: It’s geared to increase flexibility. Because flexibility is lost over time, doing this daily will help to increase flexibility and prevent injury. The goal is to get the rest of the body warmed up and moving so you’re ready for practice.

Wrestling skills: Focus on wrestling-specific movements, like front bridge circuit, back bridge circuit, shot, penetration and sprawling.

Use high school volunteers

It’s very important for high school wrestling programs and youth wrestling programs within a community to be working together. To have a successful program, you need to have a successful feeder program.

One thing to bring it all together is a high school volunteer.

Have some high school wrestlers volunteer to go to wrestling practices. It provides many benefits to the program. The youth wrestling coach will get a helping hand. The youth wrestlers will look up to the high school wrestlers and relationships will be built. The high school wrestler who volunteers with the youth wrestling club will benefit from getting community service work. That high school wrestler is also teaching, so he or she is going to learn by teaching.

“It’s a win-win for the entire community,” said Herbert. “The youth wins. The high school wrestler wins. The high school program wins. The youth program wins. The wrestling program wins. We’re building that community. Because if we’re not all growing together, then we’re dying, and we don’t want that to happen.”

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