Escaping quickly from the bottom position has boosted Old Dominion to elite status among NCAA wrestling programs. Below, Monarchs assistant wrestling coach Mike Dixon shares his insights on pulling a perfect Houdini act on your opponent.
STACK: How important is speed from the bottom position in wrestling?
Mike Dixon: Any time you can get off the bottom it’s a huge advantage, because it will help neutralize your opponent’s offensive moves. If you lack speed, you’ll probably get ridden in a match and will be unable to take somebody down or even be good on top.
STACK: How can a wrestler improve speed from the bottom position?
MD: In the weight room, we perform Hang Cleans and plyometric Box Jumps. For conditioning, we use short sprints that highlight changes in speed. In order to escape the bottom position, our main emphasis is getting wrestlers accustomed to changing speeds and quickly shifting gears.
STACK: How do change-of-speed sprints transfer to the mat?
MD: Most times in wrestling, you’re not necessarily going to stand up from the bottom position and escape—you’re going to have to chain-wrestle for about 15 seconds. There’s a lot of constant motion in a match, and our speed drill works this area, because it gets guys adjusting from a jog to sprint.
STACK: What is the biggest mistake you see wrestlers commit from the bottom position?
MD: In high school, kids can dominate inferior opponents and automatically stand up on their feet. In college, it’s more of a battle, and some wrestlers are not used to constant movement. We emphasize constant motion on the bottom, because if wrestlers keep moving, eventually they’re going to get out.
Dixon prescribes the following speed drill to familiarize the body with sudden speed changes. Use it three or four times per week during the off-season.
Change of Speed Sprint Drill
• Match-pace jog [slightly faster than a normal jog] for 10-15 seconds
• Burst into a full sprint for 10-15 seconds
• Return to a match-pace jog for 10-15 seconds
• Finish with another full sprint for 10-15 seconds
Reps/Rest: 20-30 sprints, 40-60 seconds rest between reps
Coaching Points: Don’t worry about proper running technique // Treat it as a conditioning drill so go hard each sprint