Why Football Players Should Wrestle by Matthew Wernikoff
Why Football Players Should Wrestle By Matthew Wernikoff
Physical Skills Wrestling is one of the most physically demanding sports that any athlete can partake in. It is a total body sport requiring athletes to be flexible, strong, explosive, agile; to have a great sense of balance; and have the level of “Wrestlers make coaching football conditioning that rivals any other endurance easy, they have balance, coordination, and sport. Wrestlers, through the course of their as a staff we know they are tough.” -Tom Osborne College Hall of Fame Coach for the training and competition, are often subject to University of Nebraska. physical discomfort and pain at a level that far exceeds most sports. These skills benefit football players at all levels, from the ability to move laterally, keep a man in front of you and close the distance quickly, to driving a 225 lb running back into the ground and forcing the fumble. There is no doubt that a wrestler’s physical-ness is a skill set desired by all coaches.
Mental Skills Weight management, the discipline to maintain a healthy diet for 6 months or more out of the year, the drive to give a 100% every practice, and the drive it takes to wake up early everyday to get an extra run in “I draft wrestlers because they are tough, are just some of the mental skills that it takes to be a I’ve never had a problem with a successful wrestler. But none compare to the mental wrestler.” –Joe Gibbs Hall of Fame Football Coach. toughness it takes to walk out on a mat, alone with no teammates to help you win and take on an opponent one on one. Nothing compares to that feeling; whether you have a broken finger, bruised ribs, strained or torn knee ligament, a wrestler knows that for 6 minutes nothing else matters but putting his opponent on his back and getting his hand raised in the end. What football coach wouldn’t want an athlete on their team that is always going to give them 100% An athlete that they never have to tell, “hit the weight room,” or “you should get extra laps in after practice?” A true wrestler always wants to be the first to arrive and the last to leave. A wrestler is self reliant and will never blame his teammates for his loss. Wrestlers are mentally tough.
Physiological Skills Hand eye coordination, proprioception and anaerobic conditioning are three skills that are vital to both wrestling and football player! The definition of proprioception is, “the ability to sense the position and location and orientation and movement of the body and its parts.” It utilizes all of the senses in the body. It is the ability to know where your “I would have all of my offensive linemen body is in the space you are in, without having to wrestle if I could.” –John Madden, Hall of Fame Football Coach and Broadcaster look at your body. In other words, when a wrestler is in a scramble and his head is stuck underneath his opponent and without looking he is able to move his whole body, all four limbs, often in different directions at the same time, while simultaneously keeping track of his opponent’s entire body and staying in-bounds to finish the takedown; this is proprioception. On a football field an offensive linemen, for example, has to keep track of the man in front of him, his body, the bodies to his right and left and the quarterback behind him all at the same time. A wrestler is forced to hone this skill everyday in a competitive practice environment. This repetitive practice can only benefit a football player.
Physiological Skills Anaerobic conditioning is defined as your ability to perform at a rate faster than can be met by oxygen supply. Short bursts of intense exercise tax your anaerobic system. Wrestling is a combination of Anaerobic and aerobic metabolisms however, it relies heavily on anaerobic conditioning within a match or tournament. It is because of this that wrestlers are often saught after by football coaches “Once you’ve wrestled, everything else because they are in superior shape to athletes in life is easy.” –Dan Gable Hall of Fame Wrestler and Wrestling Coach who do not work their anaerobic system. Anaerobic Conditioning Proprioception Hand-Eye Coordination
Energy System: How They Relate to Football and Wrestling The Aerobic System is an energy system which requires oxygen to be Aerobic supplied to the muscles. This system is used for exercise that lasts over one minute and is the hardest to exhaust. Anaerobic- lactic ATP/Anaerobic- alactic
Energy System: How They Relate to Football and Wrestling Aerobic The Anaerobic-lactic system produces energy “without” oxygen and is used during periods of intense exercise or physical exertion. This system produces lactic acid, which leads to muscle fatigue Anaerobic and decreased performance by athletes. In an untrained athlete it can -lactic take more than one hour for lactic acid levels to return to normal. Since the body uses Anaerobic-lactic energy system for activities lasting from ten seconds to two minutes it is beneficial for athletes who participate in a short burst sports to train ATP/ Anaerobic- this system. alactic
Energy System: How They Relate to Football and Wrestling Aerobic Anaerobic-lactic The Anaerobic-alactic system provides energy to the body during high-intensity ATP/ short-burst activities lasting less than ten seconds. This is sometimes referred Anaerobic to as the “start-up” energy that is stored in your muscles in the form of -alactic ATP. Under most conditions, these energy stores are returned to normal levels after two to three minutes of rest.
A regulation wrestling match consists of three periods, each of which istwo minutes. In tournaments, matches are often shortened to a 1min-2min-2min format or even 1 ½, 1 ½, 1 ½,. While it is nearly impossibleto quantify the time it takes for a series of wrestling moves due todifference in weight classes, experience, and techniques, it is commonlyaccepted that the average “play” in wrestling takes place over ten totwenty seconds. While “scrambles” can occur in lengths exceeding this,wrestling mostly occurs in small bursts of intense action with twenty tothirty seconds of less intense efforts. Clearly, wrestling is an Anaerobic-alactic and Anaerobic-lactic sport. Wrestlers are known for their superior level of conditioning as they often train their aerobic system to help with weight management which is necessary for long 2 and 3 hours practices with limited rest time. In addition, they train their Anaerobic-lactic system for intense drilling and matches. Wrestling requires its athletes to push their whole bodies in order to execute moves on practice partners and opponents. It is this dual approach to conditioning that benefits athletes whose primary sport is football; they are better prepared for long practices and two a-days as well as the the short intense bursts in games.
Fitness and Strength Considerations Football coaches often argue that their athletes benefit from participating exclusively in football-oriented strength training and agility sessions in the winter months rather than participating in a winter sport such as wrestling. In a recent study published in the NSCA’s Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research it was shown that there was no significant difference in strength or agility levels “…It appears that winter sports between athletes who only participated in participation does not adversely affect strength and agility training and athletes who body composition, strength, power, or participated in a winter sport AND strength agility of football players. In 6 of 7 training. In this study athletes participated in measures of body composition, their choice of basketball or wrestling. strength, power, and agility, winter sports athletes scored as well as those football players who participated solely in a strength program. Squats were the only exception: the [strength and agility only] group did show greater improvement than the [winter sport and strength/agility training] group”
About: Matthew Wernikoff Mathew Wernikoff, a personal trainer at Champion Athletes, was certified with the National Academy of Sports Medicine and is currently a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He has worked as a personal trainer with kids, adolescents and older adults for over six years. He has also worked with several gym chains as a personal trainer and as the former Director of Group Fitness and Personal Training for Premier Complete Training Center, a 20,000 Square foot facility in Bergen County, NJ. Mathew Wernikoff has also served as a head varsity coach in New York State as well as the head coach on several national teams. He has experience training wrestlers, basketball players, baseball players, football players, lacrosse players as well as a variety of other sports and activities on the youth, high school and college levels.