How to Break Down Wrestling Technique

We all want to learn technique and do it fast. I often have to tell athletes to slow it down so I can help them work on very specific areas. When you are challenged by technique, you need to break it up into its equal parts. Breaking down technique requires a major slow down and simplification of an area. 

Any technique you attempt will typically have three parts: the approach, the transition, and the finish. All of your problem areas will be helped by slowing down, and recognizing the three areas. You begin with just one of these areas and repeat it over and over. Why break up the move when we are supposed to explode through the entire move in competition? When there are problem areas in technique, its usually due to a few small mistakes that make it nearly impossible to finish to a score. We fail to see those mistakes when we rush through thinking the most important part is the finish. We have to let go of the desire to do technique fast in order to find the mistakes and to create the muscle memory. 

The approach

To demonstrate the approach, I am using the high crotch as an example. I begin by creating the most simple motion in order to get to the legs by placing my hands on the biceps. If your approach includes working on a more complicated set up, use the set up you have been drilling.

I keep my head position level with my opponent by bending my knees and not bending at the waist. I am working on staying low so I do not waste energy or be telling in my movements. This would give my opponent time to react. For the high crotch, our penetration to the leg is very important. Hands start inside so that I can quickly break through my opponent's defenses. I freeze my position once I have reached the transitional part of the move. If my driving leg (left leg) was too far behind my body, I would need to correct that on the next repetition. If my hands did not land in an accurate position, that would also need correction in the next repetition. If you notice, I only take two steps: penetration step and left leg steps in position for transition.

This should be repeated over and over before you decide to move on to the next section. The idea is to create muscle memory through repetition. We can only create that memory when we accurately repeat the same motion. If our movements are not accurate, it becomes more difficult to re-correct later. 

The transition

The middle part, or transition, of a move will look different for each technique whether its offense, defense, on top or on bottom. Think of this section as when you typically need to shift your body or create body motion. This will change your opponents position so scoring is possible. Back to the high crotch example, we can see that the transition is when I must change my position from kneeling, to squatting and driving. I need to put my opponent into the right position so I can complete the technique to a score. 

I should be looking for my opponent to be forced into stepping, and for it to be difficult to defend. This is where your partner can challenge you by slightly changing their body position to double check that every part of your body is engaged. This is often the most overlooked part of technique. We get excited about beginning and ending a move, but surprise ourselves when our opponent reacts. If we haven't practiced and perfected the transition of technique enough, it will be very difficult to get to the finish. The transition will be the biggest challenge if you are not prepared to explode out of your approach. 

The finish

How you finish or execute your technique depends on how you move your opponent to score. Are you lifting, driving, pushing, or pulling? In my example, I need to lift and drive my opponent to create my takedown score. Driving refers to a pushing motion where my upper body may stay still, but my feet create motion to move my opponent to my desired direction. My feet need to be under my hips to have the power I need to lift. My eyes need to look the direction I am driving so we both fall where I would like us to. I repeat only this motion with corrections each time. If my chest is too far away, my ear not attached to the hip, or my eyes not looking the right direction, I make those corrections on each repetition. Sometimes you remember to do one part, but forget another. Then you forget to add in driving feet but remembered to look the right direction. This is all a process as it takes many, many repetitions to have the muscle memory that allows you to execute all these elements without needing to think or do it slowly. 

There is no reason to speed up your technique, even after one session of breaking down. You will have plenty of opportunities during practice to quickly do your technique and train your speed. These kinds of sessions are meant to slow and methodical. Once you begin recognizing that your corrections are few and far between, you can start to put two parts together. Try out the approach and transition together. Did it create problems and did you forget steps? Don't go on to the finish until you have isolated working on approach and transition and those feel more natural. It's okay if you only work on this for an entire session. You can read up on how you should work with a coach and how to record technique pointers in your journal when working on breaking down technique here. Don't forget to be gentle and patient with yourself, it's also about enjoying the process of learning and mastering!