I was fortunate enough to spend many years competing in the sport of wrestling and was blessed to coach at the college level for over ten years, two as an NCAA Division I Head Coach. When my wife, Annie and I started having children about ten years ago, we felt God was leading us to pursue a new professional opportunity in Tennessee. We made the move from South Carolina and I thought my coaching career and involvement in the sport was over. When my third child and first son was born in 2012 I knew I would need to find a place that would provide an outlet for his roughhousing and ever-increasing energy reserves.
At that time, I was fortunate to be introduced to Coach Henry Kon and the WCWC and I volunteered to run the “tot” group, which I quickly renamed the Level 1 group. With the help of some amazing dad / coaches I have been immersed in developing a program and teaching these kids for the past three years. I have always been a student of the sport and have enjoyed going from coaching elite college wrestlers to beginners that know nothing beyond that they like grabbing another kid around the head without getting yelled at by mom. With my son, I’ve had the chance to see the sport from a fresh set of eyes, and my goal is that I can help provide an environment where he learns to love the sport (and the ancillary life lessons it teaches) in the same way that I did.
I wanted to provide some fundamental concepts and prerequisites for competition that form the framework to what we are working to accomplish with these beginner wrestlers. I think these principles apply across all age groups of beginners but are especially applicable for athletes in the 4-8 age range. Over the next few months I’ll be writing a more detailed explanation around these concepts.
Core Coaching Beliefs:
Motor Development and Body Awareness:
- Length of mat bear crawl and crab walk (basic strength and core stability)
- Proficiency at forward and backward rolls – proper body mechanics, especially neck
- Proficiency at dive forward roll to feet– kinesthetic awareness
- Front and Back Bridging (without hands) – for time
- Clock walking and hip heist mechanics
- Forward and backward lunge – length of mat
- Basic proficiency in knee over toe penetration step
- Ability to move from knee on mat to feet (and opposite) without using hands
- Cartwheel and round offs (agility and kinesthetic awareness)
- Defensive “Cat Reactions” – proper falling and landing mechanics (toward belly with intent to land on arms and hands).
- Defensive head and neck bracing when landing on mat in multiple positions
- Demonstrate proper starting positions for all three options without coaching.
- Proficiency in leg tackle
- Offensive landing mechanics – head on one side / body on other / hand contact on mat
- Defensive landing mechanics – cat reactions / head and neck bracing
- Proficiency in sprawl and go behind
- Proficiency in stand up and escape from bottom
- Proficiency in top breakdown and simple half from the top position
- Proficiency in basic rules and scoring
- How will winning and losing effect athlete (and often parents)?
- Can athlete demonstrate skills while others watch (in circle)?
- Can athlete demonstrate fundamental “partner drilling” proficiencies and etiquette?
- Aggressiveness – does the athlete make contact or shy away from contact?
- Competitive desire – intrinsic or extrinsic?
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