What should you be doing?
As summer break draws to a close, the wrestling preseason is upon us. This is a portion of the season that is, unfortunately, often overlooked. It is critical that a wrestler take advantage of the preseason in order to increase his chances at success in the regular season.
If you’ve ever seen a relay race, then you know that when a runner is about to receive the baton and run his portion of the race, he will start running several seconds before he ever receives the baton. This is done so that by the time the runner actually gets the baton and begins, he is already in full stride and close to top speed. This is much like the preseason for a wrestler. A wrestler in a sense uses the preseason to enable himself to start the regular season in full stride.
What you do in the next few months will have a tremendous impact on your high school season this year. So what should you be doing to make sure you are making the most of your preseason and to ensure that you enter your regular season in full stride?
Here are a few things that every wrestler should do during the preseason. First, and foremost, every wrestler should take the time to sit down and write down his or her goals for the year. Having no goals is like shooting an arrow without a target. Goals give you something to aim and strive for. If you don’t have a target you have no direction and there is no telling where you will end up. It is important to write down your goals and place them somewhere where you will see them every day.
Secondly, every wrestler should be building a foundation for his stamina and conditioning during the preseason. Just like the relay runner, you don’t want to wait until the regular season starts to get in shape. Whether you are running, swimming, or staying after practice for extra conditioning, building a strong foundation will be critical during the regular season. During the preseason you should be focusing on longer distances when you run or swim. The time to do sprints and short distances will be down the road during season.
The third, and perhaps the most important thing a wrestle should be doing in the preseason is mastering technique. Whether it is refining old technique or mastering new technique this is where you can get the biggest edge on your opponents. Most wrestlers are so excited about the upcoming season that they spend most of their preseason sparring or wrestling live and fail to master new techniques. Spend more time drilling your moves to perfection than sparring. From my own experience, I truly believe that this is what set me apart from most wrestlers going into the regular season, my determination to master new techniques during the preseason. Remember this, everybody wrestles live, so by just wrestling live you are not doing anything different than the average wrestler. Not everybody works on mastering technique, so by doing so you set yourself apart from the average wrestler.
The final piece to the preseason puzzle is competition. Preseason competition is your testing grounds. It is your opportunity to test and try all of your techniques (old and new) on real opponents. It is also the best way to gauge your improvement. You can practice, and drill, and master technique all you want but without competition there is no way to gauge any of your progress. The greatest thing about preseason competition is that no one will remember who won or lost a preseason tournament at the end of the regular season, so winning and losing doesn’t matter. My high school coach used to tell me that the only way I could lose a preseason match is if I didn’t go out and try to execute all the techniques I’d worked so hard at mastering. Also, like anything else, you can get better at competing. There is an ability in every great wrestler that goes beyond all the technique and conditioning. It is that ability to compete at the highest level regardless of the circumstance. This ability to compete doesn’t just happen, it takes practice, and that means going to a lot of competitions.