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Teaching New Moves, Combating Staleness, and Promoting Cooperation & Competition in the Practice Room 

by Bill Welker, EdD

     Effective practices include the proper teaching of new moves, knowing when the wrestlers seem “stale,” and how to incorporate both cooperation and competition during drill and workout sessions.  


Teaching New Moves

     When teaching a new move to your wrestlers, you should be able to do the maneuver flawlessly yourself. A step-by-step analysis of the move is your best approach. Emphasize those aspects of the maneuver that make it effective in competition.

Also, it is imperative that you stress why a move should be drilled in a certain manner, and what could happen if it is not. The more profound understanding your wrestlers have regarding the purpose behind each move, the easier it will be for them to master it.

The adept wrestling coach never attempts to demonstrate a move he does not fully understand. There is no shame in admitting to your wrestlers that you will need to do some research involving a certain wrestling skill. Your athletes will respect this course of action much more than if you feign knowledge of a move. In fact, you could easily harm your wrestlers’ performance by showing a move you don’t know authoritatively.


Avoiding Staleness

     Staleness in practice may be defined as that time in the season when the wrestlers appear sluggish and seem to be regressing in their wrestling skills. This phenomenon usually occurs midway through the season. Two courses of action may be taken to alleviate the problem:

     First, give your wrestlers a day off from practice. This will revitalize their attitudes and focus their thoughts.

     Second, devote one practice to an activity the wrestlers will enjoy that is completely unrelated to wrestling. For example, they might play a game of crab soccer or have an arm-wrestling tournament during practice, and then be sent home for the day. 

Promoting Practice Cooperation and Competition

     Cooperation and competition are both intricate aspects of a successful and productive wrestling program. Cooperation may take the form of the more experienced wrestlers helping novice wrestlers correctly drill the many wrestling skills that need to be learned. Also, various drills entail a cooperative effort, where one wrestler offers the proper resistance for correct drill performance.

Of course, the most important element for producing championship programs is practice competition. The more a wrestler is pushed in practice, the better he will perform in dual meets and tournaments. Without question, the promotion of a competitive spirit within your daily workout sessions can never be over-emphasized.

I feel it is very difficult to distinguish the difference between cooperation and competition within the practice setting. When you have developed a competitive attitude in your team, each member will complement the others by exhibiting maximum effort at practice. In other words, two practice partners, competitively motivated, are cooperating with each other by pushing each other and striving to be the best.

Just as cooperation and competition are important factors in the classroom, the same should be true in the practice room as well. There are many classroom strategies and techniques that can and should be incorporated into your daily practice sessions. Your wrestling program must include the following:

* Well-structured practice plans

* Competent demonstrations of drilling moves by the coach

* Knowledge of how to combat practice staleness

* An understanding of the relationship between cooperation and

competition within the realm of daily practices


The astute wrestling coach must be fully aware and understand the significance of the above components to create a practice environment that is beneficial to all the participants.  

About the Author: An award-winning writer and one of the country’s foremost authorities on Folkstyle wrestling, Dr. Bill Welker has published a national best-seller: The Wrestling Drill Book.  Most recently, his novel, A Wrestler’s Curse, was declared the winner in the Sports and Personal Growth Categories by the Beverly Hills Book Awards judges.  

     A former Pennsylvania State Champion, Dr. Welker is a member of five wrestling halls of fame, including the Pennsylvania Wrestling Hall of Fame and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (West Virginia Chapter).  He has been named twice as the National Wrestling Sportswriter of the Year by Wrestling USA Magazine.

     Dr. Bill Welker’s books can be purchased on

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