Having claimed 22 Southern Conference Championship titles, the nationally ranked University of Tennessee-Chattanooga wrestlers know better than most how to maneuver around the mat. “A wrestler with a high level of agility will display exceptional balance, body control, spatial awareness and reactive ability,” says Matthew Green, the Mocs’ assistant strength and conditioning coach.
Many factors comprise a wrestler’s agility; Green uses a reactive progression drill to work all of them. It subjects the athlete to situations that require explosiveness, like the need to get around on the mat. “In these reactive tag drills, the most important thing is getting the athlete to think explosively,” Green says. “If the athlete doesn’t think he can move or react quickly, he will never actually do it.”
Below is an explanation of the Reactive Tag Drill and its progressions. Mastering it will help you make your next opponent look like a fool.
Reactive Tag Drill
In Set 1, complete as many tags as possible in 30 seconds. Both athletes must complete 5 sets, with 30 seconds of rest, switching offense and defense after each set. Whoever completes the most tags wins. Advance to the next progression each week.
• Always starting five feet away from partner, decide who will start on offense and who on defense
• On whistle start, work to tag your opponent with either hand, never leaving boundaries
• After each tag, go back and touch outside cone on your side
Progression 1: Facing each other, begin drill in middle of box
Progression 2: Lie down on back, head-to-head with partner, in middle of box; explode to feet on whistle start
Progression 3: Facing each other, begin drill in push-up position in middle of box; explode to feet on whistle start
Adaptation: The drill is not limited to these progressions. Once you’re comfortable with the first three, you can use wrestling-specific variations, like hitting as many low singles as possible. You can also make the rule that the athlete on offense can tag only his opponent’s upper or lower body. Progressions are endless.
Benefit: This drill forces both athletes to work simultaneously on all areas of agility.
Coaching Keys Choose a partner who matches your ability // Think and move explosively for the duration of the drill // Make sure you master each progression before going on to the next // Keep your hips low and don’t stand up during the drill // Make sure you have a bend in your knees and hips // Use the same technique you would if you were in a live match