Wrestling in Russia vs. The United States.

Discussion in 'Wrestling' started by Combat Sports, Dec 15, 2014.

  1. Combat Sports

    Combat Sports Formerly What Works

    So I am lucky that one of the wrestling coaches my kids sometimes get to work with is none other then U.S. Olympian Jake Herbert. Jake went to Russia for a few months recently to study what they are doing over there that is causing their country to consistently medal in Wrestling, and in many cases produce these freak of nature athletes who come back to as many as three Olympics and bring home gold. Jake is working on writing an essay of what he learned and is considering a book. I really tried to twist his arm about writing this book because the information was mind boggling. Here are a few key points that American wrestlers and in particular YOUTH coaches should learn from:

    1. In Russia being a wrestling coach is a real and viable profession. You have to go to college to become certified in wrestling coaching. All of the coaches there teach the same methods so if your child goes from one club to another they won't be lost. The United States tends to rely on volunteer coaches who's qualifications are not really ever checked.

    2. In Russia the kids only compete maybe once a month. Whereas there is a huge emphasis in the United States on kids competing once a week. Now, to be clear the success the Russian kids are getting doesn't come from working less. What happens instead is that all of the Russian youth wrestling clubs hold open scrimmages where clubs get together and let their kids free wrestle for hours. There is also a much bigger emphasis in Youth wrestling in Russia on general physical fitness and cross training. And not specializing in one sport until a child reaches 13-15 years old. They can have one sport they like more then others that they come back to but they should be spending time in other activities that develop attributes that are useful for that sport. For wrestling what was suggested was Swimming, Gymnastics, and oddly enough, Soccer. (I wager for the cardio intensity.)

    It is not that competitions are bad. It's that the time we spend traveling around to tournaments, and the constant waiting for your match to come up that goes on during tournaments just doesn't compare to what happens during a two to three hour scrimmage where the kids are free to wrestle whomever they want, as long as they want. And the open environment of cooperation is also a big factor. Currently in response to what I learned from Jake, my kids and I travel to a lot of clubs to do drop in practices to get them exposed to other partners and this has helped them a great deal. But clubs are sometimes standoffish about this, and don't realize the value that allowing other clubs to visit your club has for the overall development of BOTH groups of kids.

    3. In Russia there is no Folkstyle. They do Freestyle and Greco-Roman. Whereas in the United States our kids generally do Folkstyle most of their lives and then hopefully pick up some Freestyle and Greco along the way. But it's hard to find a club that teaches real Freestyle and Greco in any serious way. At least so far as the Olympics the result of this is that our athletes go to compete in Freestyle and Greco-Roman against other athletes who have been doing those styles all their lives. With habits from Folkstyle that don't really help you in Freestyle and Greco-Roman. Now, to be clear from my personal perspective I think Folkstyle is great. I have noticed for example that kids doing Freestyle and Greco-Roman become too dependent on going flat and being stood up by the referee on the ground and as a result their ground game suffers. I also think it's no accident that people who do Folkstyle go on to do well in the UFC and MMA. However if we want to succeed in the Olympics our kids should be learning ALL THREE styles as soon as possible. My kids do all three and I have noticed advantages already that they can bring back with them to Folkstyle.

    4. In Russia being a wrestler is something that can make you a national hero and set you for life in the same way that Boxing used to be in the United States. In the United States many people don't even know who their Olympians are, much less the kids grinding it out in High School. The place where I live the community is so into their high school sports even people who don't have kids will show up to Football games. But the wrestling meets are depressing and virtually silent as only the few parents show up. The motivation of the hero status in Russia motivates the kids to train hard.

    5. Russian coaches feel that American coaches focus too much on the grind, and pushing their athletes to make their opponents tired rather then trying to use technique to win.

    When Jake gets around to writing his article I will be sure to link it here. The things he learned I think are crucial and I hope he can get youth coaches to get on board, particularly with the idea that it's good for your club and the US Olympic team if we encourage more open scrimmages rather then focusing so much on tournament attendance.

    Last edited: Dec 15, 2014
  2. Mangosteen

    Mangosteen Hold strong not

    those exact same scenarios and criticisms of america compared to russia is made of weightlifting too.

    you could do a PHD in weightlifting, judo and other sports in russia during the soviet period.

    it wasnt about competing immediately for kids but training for the future (as well as creating a good citizen)

    very interesting, great post.
  3. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Moved on MAP 2017 Gold Award

    I'd love a phd in Sambo.
  4. Mushroom

    Mushroom De-powered to come back better than before.

    Cool article. I have had friends wrestle friendly matches in Russia. The Russians brought in the Olympic line up.
    They were even introduced like it was a Professional match...
    "In the red corner...hailing from Russia. Winner in Olympics, Winner in etc ..
    and in the blue corner.........Dave."

    I was told each match lasted like 30 seconds.

    Speaking to a Referee, he went to Russia on a Referee course. Apparently they do not like British Wrestlers, as we are so, so so low on the skill/scale level.
  5. slipthejab

    slipthejab Hark, a vagrant! Supporter

    I wonder if being Dagestani or Chechen helps at all. :D

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