Rob's Wrestling Rant
Yes, I know. It has been quite some time since there has been a fresh blog post on SandWrestling.com. Don't freak out, I've just been a bit preoccupied promoting this amazing style of international wrestling in other ways. Ways that include...
This interview with True Wrestling Insider. If you are looking for an entertaining (and perhaps, simultaneously informative), I would strongly recommend it. It's as easy as clicking on the following link: http://truewrestlinginsider.com/sand-wrestling-with-rob-teet-twi-administrator/
With summer just about ready to wind down, news concerning sand wrestling/ beach wrestling will understandably slow down in many areas, but that doesn't mean that our season is over. There are sure to be developments in addition to the warmer parts of the world competing in beaches and parks year-round. If there are any updates to the developments of FILA proposing this style to the IOC as an official Olympic style, a new contest to look forward to, or just a fresh batch of pictures or videos, this website will be periodically updated, so check back with us every so often. In fact, with the growing number of competitions this year and the potential amount of tournaments next summer (based off of feedback and inquiries from athletic clubs and individuals), this website is going to need to be revamped a bit (especially a new 'calendar' for the "Upcoming Events" page). If you have a suggestion, please let us know.
I'll end the post with something new that we are attempting. Some of you may have heard that we have contacted a high school athletic association, about sanctioning Sand Wrestling as an official spring sport, and yes that is true. The initial feedback was so positive that we went ahead and contacted 45 other high school athletic associations here in the United States. By all means, we don't want to get too excited just yet because nothing is certain. But you can help! Tell your athletic director that you would be interested in a high school sand wrestling team. Recruit your friends too! After all, one wrestler doesn't make up a team. ;)
With all of the work that goes into setting up and hosting a wrestling contest, it can be disheartening to put in countless hours of work only to attract a small amount of registered athletes. Hosting a Sand Wrestling event can be trickier, since this style isn’t typically held during the winter months, when the number of active wrestlers is the highest at any point of the year in the United States. But there is one trick that I would suggest that every contest should (at the very least) seriously consider when they are planning out their contest…
Allow walk-up athletes the opportunity to participate, even after the event is well underway.
To most of the general population, Sand Wrestling is still a very new concept. There are advantages to that, such as the “newness” of Sand Wrestling making it a very newsworthy story, especially for local media who is scrambling to fill the void of local sports news while high school athletics are on the summertime hiatus. But no matter how well you promote the upcoming Sand Wrestling event, there is going to be people who either didn’t hear about it or hesitant to sign-up until after they firsthand witness how matches are being contested and realize how simply understandable the rules actually are.
It’s becoming rather common for folks to be interested in competing after seeing the Sand Wrestling action. Why would any contest restrict potential athletes? Sure, it is difficult to allow walk-up athletes to compete in a tournament after the brackets are set and the competition has begun. But by allowing these impromptu contestants to register and participate, we can raise the number of registered athletes (which is great when you pursue sponsors in future events), recruit more potential athletes in the future, and generate a little more revenue from the contest.
Here’s one suggestion. Allow interested participants to compete in “exhibition bouts”. These athletes must still have a membership if your contest is sanctioned from a credible league (USA Wrestling’s reduced ‘weekend membership’ really comes in handy, if your contest is sanctioned by USA Wrestling), which might initially cost potential wrestlers a small chunk of cash. Then the “exhibition wrestlers” could pay a reduced entry fee (around $5 would be ideal) to compete in a pair of matches that don’t have any bearing on any of the tournaments that are already being conducted. Allow these athletes to pay the reduced entry fee again if they want another few matches.
This is a great way to introduce our sport to the general population, allowing experienced wrestlers to give this “new” wrestling style a try (if an already registered athlete is willing to volunteer for an exhibition bout, a great opportunity for wrestlers who are already eliminated from their bracket), or allow a pair of friends (or maybe even a circle of friends) spar against each other, collecting an entry fee for each exhibitionist. If these wrestlers really like the style of wrestling outdoors, they will be more likely to sign-up at your next contest, and even talk about Sand Wrestling to everyone they know. It’s this grassroots effort in your local community that can really expand the number of registered athletes at you events each and every summer.
In addition to gaining more athletes to participate and allow your event to generate a little more money, there are other benefits to adding an “exhibition” division. I’ve already stated that it could give contestants who are eliminated from their respective bracket to have another match or two. It can also provide an ideal opportunity for workers and volunteers to gain wrestling experience without the pressure of any mistake costing a wrestler a chance to medal or win their tournament. In my experiences, there is an ever-growing amount of interest from people who have no prior experience with wrestling who are willing to help out and this can be a great chance for them to ref or work the tables. Just like there is an ever-growing amount of interest from non-wrestlers giving our sport a try, using Sand Wrestling as their gateway style.
Do you have a suggestion on how Sand Wrestling contests can increase the number of athletes at their event? Perhaps a fresh perspective on how to accommodate impromptu participants after the main tournaments has already started? Let us hear from you in the comments. :D
It amazes me that there are far too many people that are involved in the great sport of wrestling that fail to see the benefit of competing in the sand will have on the mat. While there are numerous benefits, I’m going to single out only one. You can probably tell from the title of this blog entry, I’m going to focus this discussion on how Sand Wrestling will dramatically improve the explosiveness of your shots during the scholastic and freestyle seasons.
With the short amount of time in each of the mat style seasons, creating an opening for your shot attacks often takes a backseat to learning takedowns or focus on ground wrestling. Granted, Greco is great for learning hand fighting techniques, but it doesn’t focus on opening up shot opportunities from a tie-up position since leg attacks are against the rules. While attempting a shot without first setting up might work for a quick wrestler on the mat, it isn’t the best strategy during a Sand Wrestling match. After all, the sand adds resistance to the feet that oftentimes slows down the technique of the shots. And it allows the opposition to see your attack coming from a mile away, even if you are within arm’s reach of your adversary.
But that resistance could be the key to unleashing the explosiveness of your shot attacks. Think about the runner who practices running with a parachute strapped to their back; they are competing against the resistance of the wind, which will slow them down during practice but improve their speed during a contest. The same result will happen when you stop practicing your shots in the sand and return to the mat. Subtract the resistance that is hindering your shot speed and you will have lightning quick shots on the mat.
When I think of explosiveness, I think of power. By definition, power is how quickly you can generate strength. Practicing on any uneven, shifting surface (such as sand) will target more muscles than when you are practicing on a steady surface (such as a mat). You will gradually increase the strength in your legs during the summer by sparring in the sand with friends and teammates, giving you a stronger shot on the mat during the winter.
Of course, you will have to work at it if you want an explosive shot on the mat. The summer months offer us a lot of activities to distract us from being a complete wrestler, so you have to be dedicated. The key is to practice routinely, and it helps if your friends and teammates are willing to practice too. Don’t forget to make it fun, bring a radio at least. Practice simulation Sand Wrestling matches, or compete in a nearby contest. Most wrestlers take advantage of learning from various styles. If you aren’t incorporating the Sand Wrestling style into your game, then you are already falling behind the learning curve of your competition.
(Before I continue writing this blog entry, I would like to give credit to an article in the March/ April edition of ‘Ultimate MMA’ magazine (www.ultimatemmamag.com). There is a contributing article by Mauricio “Tinguinha” Mariano titled “Maximize Your BJJ Training”. This blog borrows heavily from this article, customized for active wrestlers. There are certainly ways that wrestlers and coaches can maximize their training time. I’ve even added a few suggestions.)
Most of us aren’t on the near professional end of wrestling, with the ability to train more than 30 hours a week and participate in dozens of prestigious FILA-sanctioned International events, backed by sponsors that allow them to do so. Most of us either work or have school and our training time is limited. That can leave a lot of holes in an athlete’s overall game. Wrestling is complex, and no wrestler is perfect no matter how dedicated they are to strive for perfection. To be on top of your wrestling game, you have to work with the time you have and make the most of that time when you are on the mat (or the sand). Make every minute count.
Before you stretch or begin to get serious about training, you need to warm up. Instead of doing conventional warm up exercises (such as jumping jacks) or light jogging, consider doing solo wrestling drills instead. These drills will give your body the proper warm up while developing your techniques and sharpening your body movement skills.
Envision an opponent if you need to, but keep the wrestling IQ on your imaginary opponent low. Your main focus during the warm-up session is to “warm up”. “Shadow wrestling” is a great way to get into wrestling shape when you are home without a training partner, and you can raise the difficulty of your shadow by allowing them to counter you initial attack and practice countermoves to your opponent’s counter.
Take the techniques you already know (no matter how basic they are) and used timed minutes to drill each of these techniques as quickly as possible while maintaining the proper technique of each repetition of every move. Don’t rest between reps to improve your cardio. The more you drill moves, the easier they will be to execute during a match. Reinforce what you know by starting with the basics and progressively drill more difficult moves, finish by drilling learned techniques from the previous training session.
It’s the situational training that will determine victory on an otherwise equally skilled wrestler. Focus on specific things to do- like escape a certain hold, it’s near the end of the match and the bottom wrestler is down by one point, hip control to prevent being turned to your back, or controlling the center of the mat (or sand) for international wrestling. Coaches could cover a few strategies and techniques that can improve weaknesses that most of the team can benefit from and then group wrestlers together based on similar situational or technique struggles. A big part of situational training is to get wrestlers to think while they are wrestling and stay focused on the short term objective. New techniques can be covered after the wrestling mind has warmed up.
Cardio can be incorporated near the end of situational training by getting wrestlers into small groups and wrestle for a short burst of time (a minute or less), with one wrestler replacing another for the next timed burst of action. The wrestlers should focus on improving their position during these timed spurts. Keep wrestling; restart if a wrestling is pinned.
Honestly reflect on your performance after the training session. Why did you keep falling for that same set-up? Why couldn’t you get out of that move? What am I doing wrong about this move? Don’t be afraid to ask your coach or an experienced training partner to help you with practice a certain situation or give you a few suggestions. During the next practice session, focus on drilling on these weaknesses. If you think of something that you would like to work on when you are away from the training room, write it down.
Keep it Fun
There is nothing wrong with taking your wrestling training very seriously. However, the vast majority of us started wrestling because it was fun, so keep it that way, at least periodically. If you’re a coach, encourage a game at the end of practice. “King of the Mat” (everyone is on their knees and use wrestling moves to eliminate other wrestlers by forcing a body part out-of-bounds, like a pro wrestling “battle royal”; best used on a competition sized wrestling mat or a wrestling ring in the sand) and “Wrestling Rugby/ Football” (wrestlers are on their knees and toss or run with a soft rubber ball and score points by getting to the other teams end of the mat with the ball, with wrestling moves being allowed) are popular wrestling based games. Just as fun is doing something active other then wrestling, like a pick-up game of basketball, which will also burn calories, build interaction skills, and strengthens athletic awareness.
Moving the training sessions outdoors to the sand is a fun change of pace, and recruits more muscle fibers to do the same training on the mat. It’s a great alternative for a few wrestlers who want to get in a training session but there are no indoor sessions available. During the midst of summer, sand wrestling can be an activity during a casual bar-b-que at the local park (or beach) with friends and family.
Have an idea on how to maximize training time? Leave a constructive comment below.
I consider myself to be very lucky at times. Overcoming a disease when I was a kid, and although it was not life threatening, it could have led me to be wheelchair bound. Being able to chase my wrestling based dreams, and earning a spot on the U.S. Team despite not competing in the collegiate circuit. I’ve had a loving mother that taught me that there is always something new to learn, which I hold dearly as the key to life, and has resulted in my love for learning new things.
All of those things have given me the ability to be one of the many mouthpieces of Sand Wrestling, one of the ambassadors that are working hard to bring this version back to the Olympic Games. I’ve been lucky to have plenty of conversations with wrestlers, coaches, administrators, and fans all over the world, but even luckier to learn how there are vastly different logistics used by wrestling associations to further the sport within their country’s borders. While there may be intricate details that distinguish one wrestling association from the next, most countries use one of two main approaches is their aim of furthering our great sport that I would like to discuss.
How do countries disperse their athletic resources? Is there a better way?
Let’s first look at the United States, the country that I am proud to call home. The ‘Land of the Free’ doesn’t spend money on sending their athletes to major international competitions; it is up to that athlete to pay for expenses. That includes travel, food, and lodging. That also includes training, even though you will be hard pressed to find a highly competitive international-level athlete that doesn’t train at least 30 hours per week. One of the strongest assets of a country that requires their athletes to pay from their own contests is that it saves money for the athletic organization. Without the stress of the organization to raise revenue, they can openly expand alongside with their sport, just as wrestling organizations that don’t pay for their athletes are the same associations that are easily on board for supporting the sport of Sand Wrestling.
There are downsides to this approach. In this time of the worldwide economic struggle that we are experiencing, it has been much tougher for athletes to attract sponsors. Not only does that affect an athlete’s ability to travel, but also their ability to train with their full-time athletic job. As time marches on, more and more international athletes are coming from affluent backgrounds rather than being selected on talent. It’s surprising how many people are not aware that Olympians pay their way on their trips, although it is much easier when a sport’s annual World Championship has the Olympic seal-of-approval every four years. Not helping the cause, and in my opinion also damaging the spirit of the Olympic Games, is highly paid professional athletes representing many nations that follow this method of spreading their resources. Heck, in some of these sports (such as golf and tennis), the same professionals that go against one another during their seasons are going at it again, without giving a true “amateur” a chance in that sport or take away an opportunity for another sport that could better use the roster space to expand their sport.
On the flip side are the athletic associations that do fund their best athletes to travel to major competitions, and subsidize them for the many work-hours that are required to compete at the highest levels. An obvious obstacle is raising the money to pay for their athletes, but what really got my attention was the barrier it causes for sports to expand. Since I’m particularly an expert on Sand Wrestling, I’ll keep on topic with my sport. It’s tough for a country that is already counting their pennies to devote any resources in helping their wrestlers travel to the FILA Beach Wrestling World Championships, even holding a qualifier seems like an expense that won’t produce a return on their investment. Most of these countries tend to only focus on the two current Olympic styles. I’m not quite sure that even when Sand Wrestling gets a crack at the Olympic Games that these countries can find a way to fund it.
I’m not going to go on-and-on on previous “Blog Rants”, I’ve already covered numerous times on how investing just a little bit of resources towards Sand Wrestling can bring back enormous returns for all wrestling styles. At this point, these associations either see it or they don’t.
Is there another option? For some countries, their current set-up isn’t working. How many times has Mexico not sent a wrestling team to the games because they cannot fund it? That’s where you come in. Do you have a suggestion that could improve the current way? Feel free to sound off in the comment section below.
One thing is for sure, I wish that the countries that do take care of their athletes would loosen their restrictions and allow wrestlers that aspire to attend the FILA Beach/ Sand Worlds to compete with the self-funding approach instead of nixing the idea of giving any of their talented athletes a chance to compete against the best wrestlers in the World. As an athlete that has struggled at many times financially to compete at the highest level, I wish more were done by associations to help their wrestlers make a dent in their expenses. No system is going to be perfect, but if too many countries can’t find a way to create an opportunity to allow their athletes to compete in Sand Wrestling, it’s going to be tough to get it back into the Games. Give it time, and all styles of wrestling just might disappear from the Olympics too. The next time, we might not be able to get it back in either.