Attending the US Marine Corps Folkstyle Nationals in Oklahoma City was the first time in quite a while I was able to watch a national high school wrestling event. It was a great opportunity to get the know the wrestlers, have them get to know me, and ask what kinds of content they would like to see on LuchaFIT. After all, this website is all about creating fun and valuable content for the wrestlers, coaches, and their supporters! As with most national tournaments, I saw a lot of excitement, a lot of heartbreak, and a lot of desire to become better wrestlers. Here are a few key pointers I saw that those attending (and even those wrestlers not in attendance) could learn from.
The girls who were able to hold off an attack and counter with their own offense were the wrestlers who were able to stay in the match. From there, these wrestlers were able to widen the gap in score. How? The little adjustments in defensive positioning, and the mentality to keep fighting with their defense. This allowed the defensive wrestler to see the right moment where they could re-attack, or allowing the match to go back to the feet by shutting down an opponents offense. This is what coaches are talking about when they say "don't give up easy points." Forgetting to stay in the moment (especially in defense) and starting to panic about the score, or potential score, creates those lapses in concentration. Create opportunities for yourself by focusing on defense.
Recovering with technique even when you are in poor position is a great strategy to prevent getting behind in the score. Find your way back to your feet when you've taken a bad shot, in a front head lock, or when your opponent is trying to pressure you down in a tripod. Re-create these "bad position" scenarios in practice where you are at a disadvantage. The top level girls in the country are able to find creative ways back to their feet when they know their positioning is putting them at risk for getting scored upon.
This encompasses so much more than having the strongest collar tie at the tournament. In the post on improving the speed of your takedown, I discussed how wrestlers tend to cling with their collar ties because they think that is the way to distract their opponent. How often do you see matches where both wrestlers are tied up tight and locked in place either head-to-head or ear-to-ear? There's typically no action and someone is bound to be called for stalling. The top girls know how to create movement through fakes, and be in position (hands inside!) without getting distracted with so much tying up. They are able to create movement without clinging, and able to use fakes to distract and create an offense.
I noticed the wrestlers who were behind in a match but came back had 1 or 2 techniques from each position in their arsenal. They were able to use mis-direction to get to their strengths. Even if their go-to attack wasn't perfectly executed, they knew how to continue the pressure forward. That relentless pressure put their opponents back on their heels, and makes it hard to defend the attack. Narrow your focus in the wrestling room and perfect a few moves that work well for you.