Ben Askren -Adding Dimensions

Adding Dimensions

Most of the time insomnia is a thing of the past for me, but here and there it catches me. Fighting doesn’t work too well, so this past week during an episode I sat down to my computer and started watching matches. I started by finding ranked wrestlers first and watching opponents and then their opponents so I didn’t have to keep going back and forth. A majority of the wrestlers still had holes in their wrestling which limits the guys they can compete with. Seeing kids inept in such important positions pains me. Kids with so much athletic potential lack the technical knowledge. Holes ranged from small things such as not being able to return someone to as big as having no mat wrestling skills. Reasons for not developing these aspects are many. Environment is lacking in competition or knowledge, the philosophy of only working one thing is maintained, etc. Ultimately though, we need to be accountable for ourselves, strengths as well as inadequacies.

By continuing our journey of adding dimensions to our wrestling we may have to sacrifice our comfort. We may have to deal with the displeasure of failing when trying something new. But to grow we can not continue to do the same things we feel at home doing. Adding dimensions to our wrestling will give us a greater potential by giving us the ability to adapt quickly which better prepares us for top competition on any level.

The more dimensions you can add as a wrestler, the greater potential you will possess. Having a greater potential doesn’t make you a better wrestler, but you have the ability to develop into a better wrestler. For instance if someone only knows a double, but can hit it on 90% of the guys he wrestles he will be better off than someone who knows two shots, but hits both at 40%. With time and effort technique improves though. After a couple of months guy A with the double has a 92% success rate while guy B improves to just 50% with both techniques. Guy B would then be able to do more. Especially when you take into account that with only one move you can focus 100% on defending a single situation. With two attacks your attention must be divided.

More dimensions increases ability to adapt to different situations. Adaptation is a skill that is essential to wrestling on the top levels. As the years pass, this will be something more necessary at a younger age. Footage is more readily available on younger kids and game plans can be easily formulated for one-dimensional wrestlers. For instance, watching a match of two top ranked PA wresters I assume they had wrestled before. One was extremely explosive on his feet and wrestled from his knees. The other wrestler countered by doing likewise. He knew his chances of scoring on his feet weren’t huge. He took the match to overtime and then beat him by riding and escaping. The guy who won had changed his game plan. He was patient and defensive on his feet and worked really hard once the mat wrestling came about. He also had to know how to wrestle from his knees, but it was a great showing of knowing where to beat someone. By adapting and wrestling to our strengths we can be more successful and higher levels.

My thoughts soon drift to how does this happen. How can we create the right atmosphere to promote growth? I came up with some different aspects essential to adding new dimensions to our wrestling. First off the philosophy at the top has to be right. As coaches we need to believe in incorporating new elements into our game. We also need to allow our wrestlers the room to do so. This also needs to be backed up with knowledge of wrestling to be able add something to a wrestlers game. With sources of technique as readily available on the internet there really is not excuse these days. On top of that competition either in the practice room or in matches can greatly increase the learning curve. Having competition makes adding dimensions necessary and not just an indulgence. Immersion is the best teacher

The need to know more is essential and we need to push ourselves to encompass more. We need to be uncomfortable; this is how you get better. Beating the same kids the same way year in and year out can’t be that much fun. Moreover, losing matches to the same kids the same way really can’t be that much fun.

This is where I come to a blank… Why is it that our young wrestlers don’t develop? Why is it we lack in lots of areas? Like riding, bottom work, leg riding defense, mat returns and front head lock defense. Is it because these positions are hard or is it because they don’t have the technical resources? I’d appreciate some feed back on why this is? The what seems to be the easy part, but the why is something much deeper.

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