Third place at the 2007 Division I NCAA Wrestling Championships marked the Missouri Tigers' best finish in program history. Ben Askren, who secured his second national title in '07, is one reason for the team's success. Their killer conditioning, produced and tested by assistant coach Bart Horton, is another.
Once a week in the three weeks following pre-season, the entire squad performs a grueling shuttle test that totals 760 yards, which has to be completed in two minutes or less. Three sets are performed on each testing day to mirror the three periods of a match.
"We look for their overall times on each test day to drop," Horton says. "But we also want less variation in time from their first set to their second and third. Obviously, they get a little slower compared to their first time, but we don't want it to get too slow. That shows us that their output will be about the same from the first through the third period."
Start on goal line of football field in athletic stance
Sprint the first distance; touch line with foot or hand; sprint back to start
Immediately sprint next distance; touch line; sprint back to start
Repeat for all distances, completing entire set in two minutes or less
Perform three sets with two minutes rest between them
Shuttle distances in yards: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, 10, 10
Horton's Coaching Points:
1. It's more important that you beat your times each week. Get the base time, and then compete against that time. When you go into the second and third testing days, you know what times you need to beat.
2. Go hard the whole time. Wrestling isn't a sport where you should pace yourself. With our guys, we stress that they perform well when they're tired, and if they're pacing themselves, they're not going to accomplish that.
3. I tell guys to try to blow up their hearts and blow up their lungs when they perform the test. Can they realistically do that? No. But if they run as hard as they can, they're definitely going to make some gains in conditioning, and they're going to learn to compete better.
4. In that last 10, 10, 10 of the second and third sets, your toes should practically be scraping on the ground and you'll look very uncoordinated. If you're bounding through it like a rabbit, you probably didn't push yourself as hard as you could have earlier in the shuttle run.
5. Our wrestlers don't like to do the shuttle test. From a competitive sense, they like competing against themselves by trying to beat their times. They don't like how tiring and grueling the test is.
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