The wrestling season is only a couple months away, and that time is going to go by fast. What can you be doing now to prepare? Here are 3 things that will help you prepare for the upcoming wrestling season.
1. Getting your weight down
This does not mean you need to start dieting or “cutting weight”!! Hopefully this information will help you enough that you will never have to cut weight again. You spent all summer working hard to build up some strong, lean muscles, and if you start starving yourself during the season to get down to your weight-class, you are going to get weaker or worse yet, sick. Don’t put off losing weight until the last minute, because that only leads to skipping meals and a lot of cardio. Neither of those will help you be at your best when the first whistle blows.
Remember, great wrestlers are smart wrestlers who deal with weight issues just like wrestling issues – by planning their next move and making smart decisions when executing it. I can bet that Dan Gable and Cael Sanderson didn’t starve themselves for several days before their big matches – they spent that time preparing themselves mentally and physically to win.
Dieting vs eating right
Dieting is such a bad word to associate with just eating the right foods. As a wrestler you should only want to put the foods into your body that are going to help you perform at a top level. You can start now by cutting out the unhealthy foods from your diet. Foods like french fries, fast food burgers, cookies and cakes should not have a place in the diet of a wrestler. Start eating lean meats like chicken and turkey, or add some baked fish into your diet. Increase your intake of vegetables and fruits. This isn’t dieting, it is common sense eating. Eat whenever you are hungry, just make sure to eat the right foods.
You don’t want to start dieting now. You just want to start eating healthier. Cutting out some of the unhealthy foods will help you lose a pound or two a week naturally, without starving and without losing muscle. Then, when the season starts, you can concentrate on getting better as a wrestler, and not trying to lose weight for your next match. As an added bonus, when you cut out the fast food and sugar, your brain will clear up and you will be able to focus better in school. You will feel less sluggish as your energy levels increase. Try it for a couple weeks and see what happens.
Increase your intake of these foods:
- Vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, carrots, or celery
- Fruits such as oranges, bananas, berries, or apples
- Brown rice
- Chicken or turkey
- Fish (anything caught wild)
- Nuts such as almonds or walnuts (raw, not loaded with salt or candied)
Cut these foods out of your diet
- Anything fried
- Anything fast food
- Desserts such as cookies, cakes, candy, and ice cream
- Sugar and High-Fructose corn syrup – watch out, it is in a TON of processed foods
- Sodas or energy drinks (yes, that includes Gatorade!)
Healthy eating tips
Small changes in your diet can go a long way to cutting a few pounds. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
- Snack on carrots and celery or a handful of almonds when hungry – instead of a candy bar
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat smaller meals, but eat more of them. Eating 6 meals a day helps boost your metabolism and burn calories more efficiently.
- Don’t ever skip breakfast! Eat some eggs and oatmeal or a fruit smoothie
- If you really cannot stand missing out on some of the foods on the “bad” list, then have a cheat meal 1x per week until you get down to the weight you want to be. After that, have a full cheat day each week!
Don’t worry, after eating the healthy way for a week or two, you won’t have the cravings for all the bad foods you used to eat daily. Get your weight down the right way so you can concentrate on what counts .. winning matches.
Further reading on eating healthy for wrestling
Here are two books that will help to get you on the right path with your wrestling nutrition. These books do not teach you how to “diet”, but instead teach you how to eat the right way. Fuel your body with the proper foods and watch your performance level increase.
2. Getting in shape
Being in shape for a wrestling match is so much different than being in shape for any other type of competition. As a coach, I used to watch the football players come in from a full season of hard competition, and they were still not ready to wrestle a full match. That is not a knock against football in any way. We always got some of our best athletes from the football team. Anyone who has ever both wrestled and played football knows that wrestling is just a different type of conditioning.
Running or Sprints
The Iowa Hawkeyes are legendary for having some of the best conditioned wrestlers in sport, allowing them to wrestle a full match without seeming slowing down. Here is a little taste of them training as Head Coach Tom Brands takes the wrestling team through a 6am run in Carver Hawkeye Arena.
Imagine if you came into the season fresh, without training at all, and had to go through that run? Just as we talked about making small changes to your diet, you can also make some small changes to your training that will get you in shape fast. Start by running 5-10 sprints in the morning before school and/or right after school. That will take you 10 minutes, but will go a long way to get your lungs ready for a match. If that is too easy, take a look at the running programs in this article from t-nation.com. The Interval Build-Up Running (IBUR) program (about halfway down the article) is fantastic, but tough, so be ready.
Every few days, go for a 2-3 mile run or take a long distance bike ride. Cael Sanderson states that “aerobic conditioning is good for the mind, and can give you some variety in your training to keep things fresh”.
Another way to start getting in shape is to get into the wrestling room whenever you can with a drill partner and do some hard-drilling for 30 or 45 minutes. Two-time NCAA champion Royce Alger from Iowa says that when drilling correctly “you pick out one or two positions or moves you want to work on, and you drill each for 35 to 40 minutes.” Try drilling non-stop for just 5-10 minutes and see how different it is from how you normally drill. Watch Cary Kolat describe how to drill correctly in this video:
3. Preparing mentally
Finally, you should be preparing mentally for the upcoming season. Write out your goals and get a plan of attack. Be specific. It is not enough to say “I want to be a great wrestler.” What does that mean to you? State definitive goals, such as “I want to be a state champion this year.” How are you going to reach the goal you have set for yourself? What are you going to sacrifice? What things do you have to improve to reach your goal? These are questions that should be answered. It is not enough to just have a goal. You have to know how you are going to reach it.
Example of a goal
Here is an example of a goal that you might want to set for yourself:
- Goal – Record 25 or more pins this season.
- How will you reach this goal – learn three new pinning combinations this season. Work for 15-30 minutes extra at the end of each practice, perfecting these pinning combinations.
- What will I sacrifice – television at night, so I can spend the extra time at practice while still getting my school work completed.
- What do I need to improve – top position pressure and breakdowns, to keep the bottom man down. Turns, so I can get him on his back. Pinning combinations.
This goal now has a plan associated with it that you can put into action. Add some focus and a strong desire to the mix and you will achieve that goal.
In the end, your ultimate goal should be to have fun in the sport of wrestling. If you are not having fun, then it is hard to push yourself to become a champion. Preparing for the upcoming season the right way will help you start the season in great shape, close to or at the weight you want to be, and in the right frame of mind. This will allow you to focus on perfecting your moves and winning matches, so you will be standing on top of the podium at the end of the season.
Now go start training like a champion today!
How have you been preparing for the upcoming season? Leave your comments below!