Drilling. The name implies a grating, monotonous, repetitive, and altogether tortuous experience. Is this the way you design your practices? Is this the attitude that gets your athletes to jump levels? In a recent Attack Style Wrestling Podcast, Jason Bryant, Daryl Weber, and Dan Gable delve into the purpose and implementation of drilling. The discussion elevates the word from something that sounds akin to ditch digging, to a fun, intricate act that is clogged with opportunities for mental and physical improvement.
This discussion provokes a very important question, what does drilling mean to you and your team?
Habits: Are you making wrestlers out of tin foil or steel?
Beyond hitting moves, drilling is where wrestlers forge the little habits that make the difference between a college and middle school wrestler. Are your elbows loose? Do you reach? Do you lay soft hands? Are your feet heavy? Are your ankles exposed after takedowns? Do you hit a hip heist or simply turn in after a standup? These little questions, which determine whether or not a wrestler can compete at a high level, are answered by the habits formed by drilling in the practice room.
Before a hold has even been hit, ask yourself what kind of habits your wrestlers are teaching themselves without even thinking about it.
Style: Monster Trucks or Ferraris?
Every drill you implement in practice says something about your choices as a coach and the kind of wrestlers you are developing. Are they going to rely on motion, fakes and misdirection? Are they going to depend on controlling elbows or pulling on heads? Stalk forward or set traps? Every one of these decisions changes how your athletes wrestle, and what aggressiveness means to them.
Even though not every wrestler on your team will wrestle with the same style, the drills you implement will mold them into variations of their own theme.
Intensity: Where does it come from?
The most important moments in wrestling occur when intensity has reached a fever pitch, and the people who flourish in these moments are the people who have been there every day in the practice room. How do you practice this?
Wrestle at a high pace, without making mistakes, while you are physically exhausted.
Coaches who know how to foster this skill in their wrestlers are the ones who produce athletes capable of winning tough matches. It can be developed in live wrestling also, but drilling is the only way to get every athlete in the room out of their comfort zone, at the same time.
Bring it to Live
No I didn’t mean to life.
Once a wrestler is working with intensity, developing their style, and forming good habits, their drilling will have brought them to level very close to live wrestling. Wrestling at this level while simply drilling, will have your wrestlers developing their skills, conditioning, and intensity simultaneously, and in a setting much safer than live wrestling.
As a coach, part of every practice should fight the stigma of monotonous, repetitive, “tell me when it’s over”, drill sessions, and replace with them with moments that convey the intensity, intricacy, and competitiveness of our sport.
For more insights into this important subject, check out Attack Style Wrestling Podcast #6, featuring Jason Bryant, Daryl Weber, and Dan Gable.