By Chris Lembeck
After a seven year study of the best coaches and athletes on the planet including the top Russians of all time I’d like to offer that the most important factor in wrestling is what takes place “In-between the moves”.
Surprising as it may sound, the moves themselves are actually one of the least important aspects of making a championship wrestler.
Let me explain...
Contrary to popular belief, if wanting to develop a true wrestling Champion all the things that don’t get you any points are actually where you want to focus the bulk of your time and energy.
If you do this, I believe your kids will make extraordinary leaps and bounds on their level of performance in the time it takes to go to an outside ankle.
Almost every coach (and kid) in the country knows how to teach and/or execute a high crotch takedown, right?
Well then, why are some kids, a very small percentage of them mind you, able to do it in a real match when the heat is on, and against the top competition?
I believe that the difference here is what takes place immediately prior to the shot itself.
In my opinion, all the action that takes place “In-between the moves” is the difference that makes the difference, and those who coach this aspect of the sport will come out on top each and every time.
In 1987, one of the greatest wrestlers of all time Dave Schultz trained us at the University of Northern Iowa.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure to read or perhaps meet Dave Schultz you can imagine this was a very enjoyable, entertaining and enlightening experience and changed the way I approached the sport of wrestling…and life for that matter.
Fast forwarding to that next summer, without any planning on either of our parts, Dave and I ended up on the same airplane (and same weight class) heading out to the National Open in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Knowing I was again in the presence of wrestling royalty, I seized the moment and asked Dave a question.
I said, “Dave, what is the most important thing I need to know in order to become a great wrestler?”
I had no idea what he would say and figured it would be something like ‘always keep your head up on your shots’ or ‘know every move in the book’ or ‘learn how to wrestle with the Russian Tie’.
But nothing like that came.
What he said not only absolutely floored me, but has stuck with all this time and has had a major influence on my over-all coaching philosophy.
Moreover I think it clearly demonstrates Dave Schultz’s deep “In the seed” understanding of the sport and shows why he was who he was, and why his indelible influence is still with us today.
Know what he said?
“In order to be a great wrestler, all you need to do is follow this simple strategy"...
And there it was.
Potent and powerful “In the seed” wrestling information beyond compare and if you think about it falls in perfect alignment with the points in this article.
See, you don’t get any points for winning the tie-ups, performing a sweet set-up, or controlling the pace...BUT! those three aspects are the secret gateway to the vast majority of your wrestling points!
Yes, it's a beautiful thing!
What happened in Vegas...
As it turns out Dave (of course) and I (by the grace of God) were both unbeaten after 5 rounds at 163 lbs. of the National Open, and as destiny would have it, I drew Dave for the 6th.
Here’s how the match went…
I wanted to wrestle with inside-tie using high-hooks and posts - but we ended up in either a no-tie or Dave’s patented Russian-tie.
I wanted to change his angles, attack his stance and head position to open up “High C” or “Double-leg attack”- but I ended up following Dave's subtle lead and reacting to his every action.
I wanted to wrestle really fast and hard pace; but, we ended up wrestling Dave’s signature slow and fairly still pace.
He did to me exactly what he told me to do to others…he controlled the tie-ups, set-ups and the pace. Guess who won?
My advice to you is to take Dave’s potent and powerful information and "rethink everything" about takedown wrestling.
Whether you’re a Head Coach of Division 1 College, or simply a dad coaching your son in the basement, I suggest you consider moving your focus backward in time and work on what happens just before the shot.
Sure, practice the move itself, but the real key in World-Class Wrestling is knowing that the most valuable wrestling instruction rests not in the move itself, but what lies In between the Moves.