In wrestling, conditioning can play a major role when it comes to having success on the mat. To quote the great Dan Gable “Once you’ve wrestled, everything in life is easy”.
While pure strength alone can definitely help a wrestler succeed, it’s not everything. Not even close. From conditioning to technique training to team building workouts, use these 10 youth wrestling workout ideas to help get your wrestling club in peak condition for your next season.
When it comes to wrestling, conditioning is truly one of the most important and often overlooked aspects. While to an outsider, it may seem like three two-minute rounds isn’t much, but any wrestler or coach knows just how taxing it can be. Especially when you have multiple matches in a day in a tournament setting. You can do these drills as a team, or have your team run these wrestling workouts at home.
1. 400m Sprints - Sprints can be a great way for wrestlers to build up anaerobic endurance. Anaerobic endurance is built through intense training in a short time frame such as in 60-90 second intervals. Therefore, when running these sprints, make sure your wrestlers are going full speed for the best results.
2. Stance and Motion Drill - The stance and motion drill should be a major focus of any youth wrestling program. This drill is done by having your wrestlers get into their wrestling stance with their knees bent and their hands in front of them. Next, have them shuffle in all directions while you call “shot” or “sprawl”. On “shot” the wrestlers should do their preferred shot and then get back into their stance. On “sprawl” the wrestler should sprawl back like they’re avoiding a shot. You can run this drill for 1-2 minutes for each set with short rests in between.
3. Gassers - Back in my wrestling days, my coaches loved to run us into the ground and while I wasn’t a major fan in the moment, it certainly paid off when it came time to step onto the mat. One of their favorite drills to run was gassers.
There are all sorts of different sprinting drills your wrestlers can use to improve cardio, but a favorite across all sports are Gassers. Most often used in football these translate great to wrestling. You can use a field nearby or in some cases a gym.
All in all, when it comes to conditioning drills for wrestling, you want to be sure to focus on high intensity wrestling exercises to help build up anaerobic endurance for your wrestlers. Using these few drills before getting on the mat each day at practice will certainly help to get your wrestlers into peak conditional shape just in time for the season ending tournaments. Just remember to start slow and build on these wrestling exercises for youth throughout the season!
While strength training isn’t everything in wrestling, it can definitely help your wrestlers succeed on the mat. Strength training wrestling workouts can also have the added benefits of preventing injury and increasing the confidence of your wrestlers. Try out a few of these drills and see how your wrestlers progress throughout the season!
4. Wall Sits – I still remember the good old days of my coach having my club sit up against the wall, bend our knees at a 90-degree angle and do wall sits until we couldn’t walk anymore. While they were certainly a test of my determination, they were very effective at building up my leg strength. One thing you can do to make it a bit more fun for your wrestlers is turn wall sits into a competition such as, whoever can go the longest gets to skip condition training for the day.
5. Ab Cycle Sets – Ab cycle sets can work wonders for your wrestlers’ core strength. There are many different types of ab workouts you can incorporate into your cycle, but a good place to start would be, crunches, flutter kicks, leg raises, planks/side planks, and Russian twists. You can start out with cycles of a minute or two to help get a baseline of how long your wrestlers can go. From there, try to push the time an additional 10 seconds on each exercise to help build up their resilience and core strength!
6. Push-ups and Pull-ups – You can never go wrong with these two classic exercises to help build up strength for your wrestlers. Just like with ab workouts there are a lot of different variations you can try to spice things up a bit. Have each individual wrestler try and do as many reps as they can and push them to challenge themselves throughout the season to see how they can grow. Not only will building chest and back strength help them on the mat, it can also teach them the benefits of how much simple workouts can benefit their bodies through time.
All in all, while it’s important to keep in mind the age of your wrestling club before going crazy with strength training, these few workouts are ones that any age level can safely participate and grow from. Just like with the other workouts, start small and build throughout the season.
With the fundamentals of body conditioning and strength out of the way, you can start to focus on the nitty gritty technique of the classic wrestling moves. Focusing on having your youth wrestlers master the basics can go a long way to when it comes to individual and team success. Try out some of these drills for great wrestling technique practice!
7. Takedowns – Takedowns are one of the first and best wrestling moves for beginners to learn and can be a major key to success on the mat. According to Olympic champion wrestler Jordan Burroughs, takedowns are all about timing and anticipation. From double leg to single leg takedowns, there’s a lot to master here. Check out this video for a great breakdown on the top techniques behind mastering the takedown.
8. Pins – When it comes to wrestling, a pin is a quintessential aspect every wrestler loves to practice and master. While there are many different types of pins, almost an unlimited amount, the half-nelson is a great place to start. While most can learn basic pins and use them well, mastering a few tips and tricks can really help take your wrestlers to the next level. One way you can help practice pins, is by first teaching a few pins and then allowing your wrestlers to pin their sparring partner a few times with little resistance. While they’re doing this, make sure they’re focusing on getting their pins as tight as they can. This will help them subconsciously do the same when it comes to real matches. For a good place to start with pins, checkout these wrestling training videos!
While we could spend the whole article on this section alone, takedowns and pins are a great place to start with your wrestlers. After teaching them the basics, you can then have them focus on mastering a few pins. From single leg to double leg takedowns, to cradles, half-nelsons, and chicken wings, you can never go wrong with simply teaching the fundament wrestling moves and then focusing on mastering those. To quote Josh Billings, “Be like a postage stamp – stick to one thing until you get there”.
Wrestling team building drills can not only be competitive, but they can also allow your wrestlers to really get to know each other and have some fun. Which can be important in such a competitive and tough sport. Ending each practice with a fun team building exercise can be a great way to end a tough practice on a high note!
9. King of the Mat – King of the Mat was hands down my favorite drill from back in my wrestling days. I was always the smallest wrestler on my team so I had a ton of fun challenging myself to see how far I could go. The way it works is: you start with your lowest weight classes, they wrestle each other for 30 seconds or until there’s an obvious winner.
You may need to have to referee the match. After a winner of the two is chosen, the winner then wrestles the next weight class up. Then you keep repeating this until the last weight class/wrestler is up. I’m sure your wrestlers will love this drill as much as I did!
10. Making Workouts a Fun Competition – While this isn’t an actual drill, finding a way to turn drills into a fun competition can be a great way to team build. Another added benefit is that it can help push and ignite the competitive nature of your wrestlers.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with the competitions you come up with! You can either have them compete for bragging rights, or you can involve rewards such as getting to skip conditioning for the day. All in all, while turning drills into a competition, be sure to try and keep it fun for your wrestlers. Teach them to not only work hard, but also to have fun while doing it.