Speed And How To Get More Of It
By Carl Adams, 24 Nov, 09 @ 10:06am
It is an important factor that helps define “Athletic Greatness” and can often be the deciding component when it comes to winning or losing in any athletic event. It can be the trump card for those who have it and a terrible menace for those who have to compete against it. It is an asset that coaches look for as they build their teams and an attribute that athletes are determined to get more of as they train. For a select few, it is a great gift that many athletes wish they had more of. IT IS SPEED.
There are many factors that we look for when considering critical assets of wrestling champions. Speed is just one important factor. In reality, what good is speed without conditioning, mental toughness, power, good technique and a smart wrestling strategy?
However, let’s take a look at the individuals on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Freestyle Team. We can make a case that all seven wrestlers were perhaps the quickest wrestlers in the United States at their weight. I can’t imagine any wrestlers in the world being quicker than Stephen Abas, Shaun Bunch, Cael Sanderson or Joe Williams. An enormous amount of effort goes into making a World Team, but don’t you think that having great natural speed helped these individuals just a little bit? The fact of the matter is that these Olympians had great speed, great power, great conditioning, great mental toughness and the world’s best wrestling technique. That is a very scary combination to compete against.
Speed is an asset that I look for when I recruit and an advantage that I push my wrestlers to acquire more of as they train. I have had many people tell me that I used to be one of those quick guys. You’ll notice I said “used to be”. Since I’m far removed from my competitive days, I can freely discuss what these super quick wrestlers rarely ever talk about, their speed. They know that they have a special gift and they know they can shift into a high speed gear whenever they feel the need.
Some individuals will never be as quick as others no matter what they do. However, in this article, I will discuss how to use speed if you have it, and how to enhance it if you don’t have much of it.
Wrestling speed can be increased dramatically when wrestlers concentrate on a few basic training concepts. The first step is to realize how important speed can be. Secondly, wrestlers should work on improving speed from every position every day that they practice.
I like to divide wrestlers into four speed categories. Those categories are slow, average, fast and super fast. The “super fast” wrestlers move like they were fired from a rifle and are usually the most difficult athletes to compete against. Most high level wrestlers fall into the “fast” category. “Fast” wrestlers also have the speed to become great champions at any level. However when wrestlers fall into the average to slow category, it becomes more difficult to compete against top level competition. Of course, there are the rare exceptions that may not have great speed but still manage to win because they are super strong or have an unorthodox style that is tough to compete against.
Any wrestler can improve speed and perhaps even double his/her quickness. Lets’ take a look at six concepts that will help improve speed dramatically. Those concepts are 1) Position, 2) Timing, 3) Anticipation, 4) Power, 5) Coordination and 6) Precision Technique.
1) Knowing how to stay in good position is the key to being a good wrestler. Staying in good position will automatically improve your speed, power, timing, coordination and general wrestling efficiency from all positions. There are so many facets that we can discuss regarding wrestling position and I will certainly revisit this topic in another article. However, position is all about maintaining your best position to attack and defend in the most efficient manner. For example, when wrestling from the neutral position, it would help to be as close as possible to the target before attacking. Second, every body part should be in the best position to launch the quickest and most efficient attack. Analyzing various wrestling positions, set ups and wrestling skills will be the most productive time wrestlers can spend learning how to become better competitors.
2) Good timing can increase your speed dramatically. Good timing generally relates to the Set-Up, moving on the whistle and how well you are able to anticipate. For example, if a takedown Set-Up causes an opponent to expose a weakness while moving toward him/her, your speed automatically improves two fold. In this situation, you have two forces moving toward each other as opposed to one person attacking and the opposing wrestler defending.
Sometimes good timing will mean moving quickly off the whistle and other times it has to do with a wrestler’s reaction time. In wrestling, weaknesses present themselves all the time. Good timing and quick reactions will allow a wrestler to attack the weakness before the window of opportunity closes.
3) Having good anticipation is another way to improve your speed. Cael Sanderson is the best I have ever seen at anticipating the movement of an opponent and attacking the exposed weakness. It seems as though he has a sixth sense when it comes to anticipating how and which direction an opponent might move.
Experimenting with how individuals will react to various set ups will improve your ability to anticipate. Choreographed drilling is also a great way to improve how well you anticipate. Your speed can improve considerably as you expand your ability to anticipate.
4) Weight training will improve your power and power will improve your speed. Most athletes are constantly looking for ways to improve their strength and explosive power. The key with Strength Training is to target specific muscle groups that wrestlers rely on when initiating various wrestling moves. A good Strength Training regimen will help wrestlers become more explosive as they attack as well as defend.
5) Coordinated motion is a topic that is not discussed much in our sport. This has a lot to do with refining technique and constantly working on improving your efficiency. For example, I have seen many wrestlers chop the Takedown Set Up, Level Change and the Penetration Step into three different parts when they execute. Doing it this way can really slow down a wrestler’s attack. In many instances, the most efficient way to execute takedowns is to blend the Set Up, Level Change and the Penetration step all into one effort. Eliminating hitches and extra movement is another way to refine technique and improve quickness.
Telegraphing your intentions can be a big problem for wrestlers who are working on improving their quickness. The opposing wrestler has to much time to adjust and react when the offensive wrestler telegraphs his intentions. Learning wrestling techniques properly and drilling moves over and over again will improve coordination, speed and your ability to score more points.
6) Executing Precision Technique will also improve quickness. It is worth every bit of time wrestlers spend learning and refining skills. The more refined the skills, the quicker a wrestler will be. Further, good technical wrestlers waste a lot less energy and are better able to exploit weaknesses of the opposing wrestler.
It is a fact that quick wrestlers are more difficult to defend against and generally able to score more points. I have listed six concepts that will help wrestlers improve their quickness. I believe that if wrestlers concentrate on all six areas during every practice, they will become much quicker and be better prepared to score more points from every position.