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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Cliff Cahill added to this discussion on January 25, 2008

interesting - does the culture come before the winning - well maybe not as must win before you can develop culture - but then if culture is required - just cannot imagine a class like the 08 with all the 4x and national awards pervasive almost through every weight class coming to Ohio State individually without the burning desire to win every time out on their mat

Now their could be a different but yet same language thing going on. Could it be the team as a whole and not the individuals development of core belief that is the key in the top 3 college programs? Might be something there. Can you remember the pandemonium that was spontaneous when Ohio State knocked off both #2 and #3 Oklahoma teams consecutively on their way to #2 in the Nation at the National Duals. Do you remember on senior night the interview with Jesse Land as he reflected on that moment as a team. One of the great interviews in the Matside archives. That team was out of the seats for every weight class at the moments requiring a team belief that they were going to win. What is the team responses on the bench for the top 3 college programs?
Is this a requirement to establish an environment for high level will trained being furthered in their development of college wrestling?

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Michael Rodriguez added to this discussion on January 25, 2008

I think almost all teams, whether they are a tight-knit group or not, would've gone crazy in the situation that happened at the National Duals in '08. I mean, you just made the finals of the National Duals by pinning at heavyweight in OT. If you're not going crazy, you're probably dead.

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Rex Holman added to this discussion on January 26, 2008

Mr. Ramsey-

If you are always in position, then no one will score on you. Solid.

There are a subset of rules to go along with the initial rule as it does not express the complexity of staying in position. KISS rule is excellent but does have shortcomings. If a wrestlerís best attack leads to a neutral/slight advantage situation, then he better learn to wrestle there and become an expert at that position. From personal experience, situations evolve out of necessity and repeat themselves. In executing your best attacks, you are certain to repeat situations. Knowing these situations will arise allows you to prepare accordingly.

Rules to wrestle by:

Head, hands, hips, heart. Your line of defenses. If the head is beaten, then you have your hands. If your hands are beaten, then you have your hips. If your hips are beaten, then you have heart. If your heart is beaten, you are taken down. Working these components together is a dynamic skill that takes time to develop.

The quickest way to compromise your position or your opponents position is with a leg attack. It is a Catch 22. You either get into better position than your opponent on a shot or it is the other way around. However, position is relative to the wrestler and how good he is at wrestling from a certain situation. How evolved is his skill at wrestling from certain situations? Is he able to turn a "he's got it" into a "not quite". I.e Palmer's almost td of Jenkins last night. Jenkins showed tremendous skill in defending that attack.

The second quickest way to compromise position is to confuse your opponent or rather make it your game and stack the cards in your favor. I.e Mitch Clark- created positions that he was expert in which his opponents could not effectively wrestle. Mitch would let a guy in on his leg and that is when his wrestling began. Kendall Cross was great at doing this. His matches at the í96 trials with Brands are testament to his ability to create situations unique to him and his special abilities. I.e Jaggers v Strayer ( last nightís crab ride defense into a defensive pin). Strayer is a very good crab rider however Jaggers was better at wrestling from this position.

I think Iowa does a phenomenal job in creating situations through the tie-ups and constant pressure (think Colt Sponseller) on their feet which is in line with Mr. Ramseyís stance and movement theory. Their set-ups are overall the best at creating opportunities to score and when they are always attempting to score, very few if any weaknesses are visible.

(This last paragraph is intended as a joke) If KISS is so simple to implement, then a monkey could learn it. If the KISS rule applies to Iowa, then I propose they be renamed the University of Iowa Monkeys. To Iowaís credit, I would suggest that all other major universities be renamed to less evolved forms of life such as Plankton, Amoebas and Viruses.

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Rex Holman added to this discussion on January 29, 2008

Workout partners are the essential means of improvement. It is essential that you surround yourself with wrestlers above and below you in weight class that are better or equal to you in skill. Workout partners either challenge you or they donít. Workout partners are haves and have-nots. They either have the ability to push or have-not that ability. Skill-set, conditioning, and attitude are directly influenced by your workout partners. Consequently, your ability to compete at a high level is a direct reflection of the quality of partners in your room. When you look at what school you will be attending, make certain that there is a coach and workout partner that is right around your weight. It is essential that you must develop a working relationship with this person. Make certain that this personís priority is to see you succeed.

Kevin Randleman was my greatest asset. He forced me to be at my best. He worked with me when it was time to drill. It was ďgo timeĒ when we went live. I am thankful and aware of the situation I was given at Ohio State. I donít think I would have reached my potential as a college wrestler if it had not been for him.

We need a partner that fights from position with great skill and conditioning with a result driven focus. By result driven focus, I mean scoring points.

A lot of times wrestlers get into scrambles that look amazing but, donít score. Not scoring is wasted effort unless the scramble is a means of fatiguing your opponent and getting him to compromise his position for your gain. If that is part of your game, it is a good result-driven strategy. However, if you get fatigued in the process and your position suffers, then it is a poor result-driven strategy. Ultimately, you need to score points to win in any sport for that matter.

Randleman story. Do not take anything for granted and wrestle to win. I was wrestling Kevin in practice prior to the NCAA tourney. Everyone knows the dislocated jaw story, but how about the hairline fracture in his hand story. We were wrestling matches during practice as that was the customary practice late in the season. It was the last match and the last period of an afternoon practice. We were keeping score because that was the nature of our competitive relationship. He was riding me as I had just ridden him for the entire second period. I managed to escape with just a couple seconds left in that period. Looking back it was probably a momentary lack of discipline on his part that I was able to exploit. He was mad. He got up and punched the wall. I am not advocating punching a wall by any means because that is folly and ends up getting you injured. However, the situation can be viewed as direct feedback on his wrestling and he knew he made a mistake which was intolerable for what he was striving. Thus, it made him a better wrestler because he was forced into a situation that tested his limits. Also, it reemphasized that he needed to wrestle every second and take nothing for granted. Better to learn in practice than in the NCAA tourney.

We need a partner that showcases our weaknesses to us. The only way this occurs is if we are competing against someone that can do so. Once we know the weakness, we must go about correcting the problem in a systematic way that ensures that we will not revert back to the initial weakness.

As a side note: Occamís razor states, ďall things being equal, choose the simplest explanation for a result.Ē If you are getting beat on a position repeatedly, then there is a simple explanation for the result. Basically, you are getting out of position.

The cause for the loss of position is due to a lack of discipline, a lack of education or a lack of strength. (or any combination of the three) Honest evaluation allows for you to identify the reason for the loss of position and attribute it to one of these root causes.

Let me elaborate. I will qualify a lack of discipline as a mental lapse or loss of concentration. A lack of education is not knowing how to effectively wrestle from the situation and a lack of strength is the deficit of endurance, horsepower and/or explosiveness relative to your opponent.

Let me explain how this plays out. For instance you are wrestling Tom Brands and he shoves your head while going out of bounds or you are wrestling a wrestler from the Big 8 and he takes an exceedingly long injury timeout. If this action distracts from your overall focus, then it qualifies as a lack of discipline.

Next, you are wrestling a Russian and you are new to international wrestling. You are put down in par terre position. Your par terre defense is lacking skill and consequently you get turned for two points. This lack of knowledge on how to successfully defend a par terre attack qualifies as a lack of education.

Lastly, You are wrestling someone that is freakishly strong. He attacks and you canít adequately defend because of a strength advantage. This qualifies as a lack of strength. As a further aside, this is the reason for weight classes. Athletes use performance-enhancing drugs because it makes the other guy lack strength in comparison. All things being equal, the stronger guy wins.

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Mark Niemann added to this discussion on January 29, 2008

That was exactly what I was thinking. I would have posted that but you beat me to it. Well stated.

I shall copy this and post it in our wrestling wall (because I haven't typed my thoughts yet, of course) if that is okay by you???

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Rex Holman added to this discussion on January 29, 2008


That is fine, but I think you will get a lot of blank stares.

This thread deals with developing college skills and is intended for a mature mindset.

It would probably make sense for a kid that is very serious about wrestling and that is my intention.


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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Mark Niemann added to this discussion on January 29, 2008

Wait a minute...are you saying I'M not mature or my kids aren't quite on that level!!!???!!! <smile>

The main point of a workout partner is something we've been pushing the last week or so as we make a push to the post-season.

Thanks for the insight.

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Rex Holman added to this discussion on February 1, 2008


My comment was an off the cuff projection of my own shortcomings and inability to work with kids that lack a certain level of motivation and accountability.


I looked up culture on and there were some 12 definitions. I liked #5 as it relates closest to my meaning, although all are closely related. Culture defined, ďThe behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic or age group.Ē I prefer beliefs and behaviors in that order as thoughts precede action.

The overall culture of a team reflects the attitudes and actions of the dominant players and to a lesser extent the non-dominant players.
For example, the Buckeyes were down 19-16 v PSU when Jaggers got the fall. That event sent a strong message to everyone involved that OSU as a team is going to find a way to win. There will be bumps in the road. But, the overall picture the team is painting is the one that people will remember and embrace.

A coach can be viewed as a dominant player as he is responsible for leadership and instilling beliefs and behaviors in his athletes.

Players are extremely influential to their peers. A player that is a team leader can be as influential as the coaches in determining overall team culture.

The 2004 Buckeyes finished 2nd at the NWCA duals and 3rd at the NCAAs. However, they finished 8th in the Big Ten and in doing so turned in a less than stellar performance. What happened? I believe the attitude was compromised due to fatigue, Tommy, J.D., Blake, Johnny, and Jeff had outstanding NCAA tournaments. So, yes there was a team culture, but it was not easily defineable as their behavior(wins and losses) seemed contradictory at times.

Human beings are creatures of habit. One of Russís greatest stories is Jimmy Haines winning his NCAA title against Johnny Jones (Zekeís brother) of Iowa St. Part of that story includes Haines being spent and Russ giving him a couple days off before the Championships. Haines ended up taking Jones down and winning after trailing the whole match. If he did not take some time off, I suspect he would not have wrestled at such a high level. I believe the 2004 Buckeyes were tired at the Big 10s. Bottom line, you cannot ask for a better teammate than Tom Rowlands. If his performance is below expectation, then something is amiss. To Russís credit, his ideology and practice had the desired outcome for a lot of wrestlers including myself. But, you had to be a workhorse and resistant to fatigue.

I view wrestlers as a social group. Wrestlers as a social group can be further divided by traits. There are many traits (toolset) such as toughness, endurance, strength, winning attitude, leadership that are an advantage to have as a wrestler. Whereas, the opposite of these qualities can be seen as a disadvantage. A lot of these qualities are relative to the competition which is why you see coaches at the Junior Nationals and NHSCA Nationals. A wrestler that is successful under the toughest of conditions is exhibiting a strong toolset. While past history does not ensure future success, it is a good indicator. So, coaches are going to recruit athletes that possess qualities that are a good indicator of future success. If you can get enough guys with the right traits and help them continue their evolution as wrestlers, an NCAA team title is within reach. You wonít get there by having wrestlers drop out, regress, get injured, fail out, or get kicked out( I speak from experience). You need to be highly selective of who you recruit on your team and then make certain that person has the necessary resources available to succeed. (Bob- I was getting back to you sooner or later; it just happens to be in this thread).

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Cameron Stewart added to this discussion on February 6, 2008

Coach Rex,

I could read your posts all day. You need to write a book! How is life treating you? Maybe I'll see you at the OSU vs. Mich dual.

Cameron Stewart

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Rex Holman added to this discussion on February 6, 2008


Thank you. I would like to write a book some day but I will need to sell more than a few copies to justify the print. In the meantime, I will peck away at my keyboard and write what I know (or rather think I know). Btw, I still speculate on how Jayce would have developed, if he had been a wrestler first. I enjoyed coaching both of you.

Fatigue, Emotions, Injury and Sickness

During the process of a match, event, or season, there are some dynamic properties unique to sport that affect the athleteís ability to compete. These are defined in terms of their root cause and consequent effect. The accrual of fatigue, emotion or injury/sickness act as distraction. One should not avoid dealing with any of these aspects as doing so is like overlooking a course of block in constructing a foundation. Being able to successfully navigate these aspects takes a maturity unknown to many young people. The young athlete may feel a sense of helplessness as these issues can be overwhelming. Being overwhelmed and lacking the foundation to deal with these issues is painful. Some common defense mechanisms that serve to protect the ego are projection, deflection, and indulgence. These defense mechanisms are limited and never address the real issue. By projection, I mean acting out verbally or physically i.e. being mean to a family member. By deflection, I mean making excuses. By indulgence, I mean using chemicals to alleviate the pain. Unfortunately, athletes have a tendency to act harmfully to oneself or others when these aspects turn up.

1.) Fatigue

Fatigue is a means of causing your opponent to lack discipline, strength, and a winning attitude. Fatigue is inversely proportional to discipline, strength and a winning attitude. As fatigue increases, discipline, strength and positive attitude decrease. As fatigue decreases, discipline, strength, and positive attitude increase. Fatigue works as a distraction to performance. Lactic acid builds up in the muscle causing for slower reactions and a form of pain. When pain reaches a certain threshold, it diverts some of our focus to it. This is why it is so important to train when fatigued as we can build up a tolerance to that threshold. (conditioning). Jim Jordan use to say that the quarterfinals through finals of the NCAAs is where you have to really work hard to get someone out of position. Basically, he was saying that you have to wear on your guy, so, he makes a mistake. Watch Ben Jordan wrestle and see if his style adheres to this philosophy.

A story that makes me smile. My dad is a lawyer who practices in central Ohio. A friend of mine, wrestler Matt Stout, works at the same firm and relayed this story to me. One of Mattís wrestlers was shadowing him for career day. Matt asked my dad to give the shadowee a wrestling talk. The story goes that Matt abandoned Kevin at my dadís office, but was right outside the door. After the greetings, my dad started talking to Kevin about the pain barrier and how it was important for any wrestler to be mentally tough and push back the pain barrier. Kevin was an 8th grade wrestler. Well, my dad explained the concept and strongly suggested that he start doing push-ups. The push-ups began and lasted until Kevinís arms were shaking at which point my dad verbally encouraged him to push through it. It went on for a little while and concluded. Afterward, Matt appeared at the door asking Kevin if he had learned anything.

2.) Emotions:

This is closely related to fatigue but is different. Letís say that you are competing against a wrestler that pokes, prods, cuffs, headbutts, shoves, hooks, crossfaces, chokes, elbows, outconditions, etc. (you get the idea) There are a hundred different ways to mentally unbalance your opponent. If these things take place repeatedly during a match, chances are you will lose your even mind-set and some type of retaliatory action will manifest. It could be in the form of getting out of position, trading blows, or talking trash. If they take you out of your game, then you are exhibiting a lack of discipline.

A story. Letís say there is a wrestler who uses dirty tactics. After every takedown, his elbow finds a way to your face. This is a recurring tactic in the match. During the third period, you find yourself on top chewing on another elbow. You look at the referee who returns the look with a blank stare, like he is oblivious to the infraction. Your opponent has a shaved head, so when you open hand slap him on the back of the head, it makes a big cracking sound. Teammates and coaches from both sides of the mat run out to the center where a lot of pointing fingers and craziness ensues. I tell this story to illustrate that cumulative cheap shots do add up and may cause you to lose your cool.

3.) Sickness and Injury

The quickest way to derail good intentions is with sickness and/or injury. In wrestling, you are subject to a lot of stress. I.e physically exerting yourself, keep your bodyfat low. The easiest way to get sick is to overload your system with too many stressors. Injury is a different beast in that can occur due to foreseeable and unforeseeable causes. Either way, both effect your mental and physical make-up. Being that you can only control what you think and your immediate surroundings, it is important to remember that you do have some degree of control. Obviously, there is a lot that we cannot control. Make a general blanket decision that you will control those things within your ability. This concept takes an uncommon amount of maturity to practice. A maturity that sometimes develops years after getting the life experience that preceded it.

Emotions, fatigue and sickness are related to performance. Navy SEALs are put through the most rigorous of conditions in their training. The key to their survival is an ability to stay even-minded under extreme conditions of duress. Once the mind goes, so does the performance. It is more of a mental hiccup in wrestling in that it only takes a moment to lose focus and make a mistake.

Identifying the importance of these distractions allows us to prepare accordingly. An adaptive and innovative wrestler will find the most productive way to deal successfully with fatigue, emotions and injury.

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Rex Holman added to this discussion on February 6, 2008

This is something I wrote awhile ago:

In order to compete an extreme high level where conditioning plays a vital role, you have to be a bit of a masochist and sadist. Let me qualify.

You have to begin at a torrid pace and continue or increase the pace. You have to be willing to compete at pain threshold that is atypical for 99% of the competition, thus inflicting pain on oneself, while knowing that your opponent is feeling the same or more duress. Thus, your are inflicting pain upon him via oxygen debt and lactic acid build up while being physical. Sooner or later, your opponent will concede position at which point you will seize the opportunity to score as you are trained to do. Think Brent Metcalf.

Watch the movies Gattaca and either of the Prefontaine movies. Very similar themes. In Gattaca, which happens to be one of my favorite movies, the brothers go out in the ocean in a turn back competition ( who can go further), the genetically inferior brother outlasts the superior brother who fatigues and slumps in the water and the inferior brother is forced to drag him back to shore. During the course of the event, the inferior brother explains that he was not saving anything for the swim back to shore. I realize that it is science fiction, but it is the attitude that shines.

In Prefontaine, Steve is bullheaded and sprints out of the gate to which Bowerman urges him to be a tactician and win the race by strategy. In the Olympics, he finishes fourth but it is maybe the bravest race he has ever ran in terms of all out gutsy performances. The underlying theme is that he was courageous enough to take the lead and go balls out for the duration.

Take care in developing this conditioning as it can lead to burn out and injury as it is it is extremely taxing mentally and physically.

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Brian Nicola added to this discussion on February 7, 2008


Good stuff...I will share some today with my kids.

On a side note, your viewing of Gattaca brings the grand total of moviegoers to three, including both Ethan Hawke's mom and dad.

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Rex Holman added to this discussion on February 7, 2008


I went to IMdb and checked out the # of reviews. You are right in that it tanked at the box office.

That movie is great for a lot of different reasons. Uma Thurman being one of them. Putting aside my wanton desire for that long-legged blonde beauty, it tells the story of someone that was supposed to amount to very little, but had the burning desire to accomplish a goal. It is about being human. It is about belief. It is about the relentless pursuit of a goal. It is about maximizing your ability. It is about virtue although the means he went about achieving his goal was under false pretense. He lived in a utopian society that frowned upon the less gifted. So, it was the society that discriminated against him. But, he did not cry about it and play victim. He chased the dream while brutalizing himself in the process. He fought for everything in the process. It further reemphasizes the theme that today is a gift and that you need to make the most of your God given talent. He did not want recognition. He did not want to be a hero. Money was not highly important. It was the idea and the pursuit of something that was central to his existence. Does this sound a little similar to people that pursue wrestling?

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Mark Niemann added to this discussion on February 7, 2008

Yeah...kind of like Simon Birch.

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Discussion Topic: Developing College Wrestling Skills
Pat Costilow added to this discussion on February 8, 2008

Personally, as an athlete I had next to zero physical talent, and I loved the movie Gattaca (those two things might be related).

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