Coach Dave Zabreskie has took over as the Elevation Fight Team wrestling coach for over a year now and has been a huge component to their success. As a national champion wrestler for ISU and as someone who chased an olympic spot as well, his level of knowledge and technical expertise is astounding. He is giving a seminar at my academy this week, but I wanted to give some of the big takeaways that I have had this year from his coaching.
1. Running on your knees
In wrestling you are taught a duck walk from day one, but maybe a more important skill is to be able to run on your knees. I think I first saw wrestlers doing this in a video of warm ups at the olympic training center and thought "that is weird". But basically when you get stopped on a shot and you go to your knees, just the idea of running towards your opponent on your knees to try to build back up on your shot and get your chest back to their leg has been a game changer for me. This works for both single legs and double legs. The first time Dave demonstrated this on me, I had a solid sprawl and he built back up to a good shot like I was a little kid. Watching some of the best american and international guys this seems to be a huge component to success on shots. NCAA Champion David Taylor seems to be making a huge change to his game with this as he was known for his ankle picks in college, but as he moves up in weight class, he uses more double legs, get stopped on a lot of them, but builds back up and manages to score. Here is David Taylor showing this at a wrestling camp:
2. Swinging the leg like a baby
On a standing single leg there are lots of ways to finish, but what has helped me the most is this drill where you get your single leg, start driving the guy back, head up and once you get some momentum start swinging his leg inside to outside with long arms. At first this drill was super awkward for me to do and I didn't like having the leg to the outside as much because my best finish was a foot hook when the leg was between my legs. But now that I have done this drill so much, it gets easier and easier to drive the opponent backward and the more you are driving them backward and keeping your head looking at the far shoulder, the more difficult it is for them to sprawl and push your head down. So before I would get to my standing shot and if I could trip, or hook the foot a lot of times I would drop down to get into my low single finishes, now I can run through my opponents getting a bigger takedown with more efficiency.
3. Flat hips on head to stop a shot
The sprawl I always learned growing up and had served me well was one where you cut your hips toward your opponent's head while they shooting and keep that pressure. While that always served me well, Coach Dave has put an emphasis on stuffing the head between the legs and getting your hips flat on top of him. This traps the opponents head between your legs and frees your hands to push on the thighs to break the grip. Before I always thought I had a punishing sprawl, but this has taken it to new heights. It also made it easier to teach the kids and adults where you want your opponent's head and people weren't getting knocked off balance as much. You can see Olympic Champion Kyle Snyder doing this and teaching this in his seminars.
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