Even though freestyle wrestling has no professional format, amateur wrestlers need to compete virtually every weekend throughout their youth, high school and college careers, and they need an impressive winning percentage if they ever wish to succeed at the highest levels of the sport. This gives successful wrestlers an impressive combination of toughness, athletic ability and technical skill. What separates the good wrestlers from the great ones is the amount of training they do before a tournament and how they structure that training.
Practice Makes Perfect
Regardless of how strong or fast you are, you're never going to cut it as a high-level freestyle wrestler without loads of practice. Individual agility and reaction drills such as tennis ball drops and footwork drills are great, but training against partners in the gym is the best way to prepare yourself for the rigors of actual competition. In the week before a big tournament, wrestling practice should be toned down, with the focus being more on technique and reaction drills rather than full-blown practice matches. You don't want to go into a tournament too depleted.
Finding the right balance between training and rest is what it's all about in the world of wrestling. Your individual and partner-oriented technique practices are going to get you in solid shape, but you should count on the fact that everyone else entering the tournament against you has been training their bodies outside of the practice room. Conditioning training such as sprints, circuit drills and one to two days of weight training per week will add strength, power and endurance to your arsenal.
Cutting weight is a reality most wrestlers need to face if they want to succeed at the highest levels of the sport. Chances are, if you enter a tournament at the weight you normally walk around at, you're going to be facing someone with a significant size advantage in terms of his frame. Wrestlers shed weight through dieting and fat-burning exercises in the weeks leading up to a tournament, and although many wrestlers cut the last few pounds before a tournament by shedding water, it's not recommended for long-term health purposes. Concentrate on body fat loss and remember that slow loss is good loss. Start your cutting process one to two weeks before a tournament rather than cramming it all in one day.
Warm-Up and Cool-Down
Sometimes, what separates wrestlers on the day of a tournament is who had the best warm-up. When all else is equal in terms of skill and physical attributes, it's important to begin the tournament day with a lengthy warm-up routine. Push yourself to the point where you're sweating, but don't exhaust yourself right before you compete. After each match, cool down with light jogging to calm your heart rate and keep your muscles active before the next match.