There’s a problem in the amateur wrestling world… a big problem!

Middle school or junior high school-aged wrestlers world-wide are beating cheated!!

They are being trained like bodybuilders or weightlifters… and it’s hurting them. It’s hurting them physically, and not necessarily from injury (although many middle school wrestlers get hurt in the weight room)!

The big problem lies in that middle school wrestlers are not weightlifter or bodybuilders, therefore they have specific strength and conditioning needs that aren’t being addressed.

The result is that they are becoming stiff, less explosive, and more prone to injury…

Here are 3 tips to ensure you have a proper training program for wrestlers between 10 and 13 years old (plans differ for inseason, offseason and preseason, but these principles should always be addressed when training for middle school wrestling):

Tip #1: Begin Training Sessions With General Preparation Exercise!

When wrestlers are between 10 and 13 years old they need to increase their neuromuscular development… in other words they must improve coordination before you can get them really strong.

It all comes down to hormones and growth of bones and muscles. During middle school years, a wrestlers bones generally grow faster than their muscles do… leading to that awkwardness in coordination until they ‘grow into their body’.

Therefore, we begin training sessions with exercises that require various movements forward, side-to-side, and twisting. An example would be Low Skips, followed by Side Skips, followed by Swinging Toe Taps.

This warms them up by signaling the brain to coordinate with the muscles that are going to allow for proper movement on the mat.

Tip #2: Train for Systemic Strength

Between the ages of 10 and 13 it is best to perform strength exercises that demand the entire body become involved.

These exercises should use bodyweight only… although we can begin teaching proper form for the weight room exercises that they’ll begin in high school.

I like to have middle school and junior high wrestlers do Hand Walk Circuits, Crab Walk Circuits, and Single Leg Squats or Deadlifts. These exercises will help develop the coordination required as an athlete, that can only be addressed between about 10 and 13 years old…

As a result we get them stronger, and much better on the mat because their overall athleticism is being improved as they are getting stronger and more developed.

Tip #3: Always Finish With Active ROM Exercise

Active ‘Range of Motion’ exercises help keep a balance between antagonistic (opposite) muscle groups. These exercises require that the wrestler cool down by slowly and methodically working the muscles through their full range of motion.

This cool down improves the range of motion and flexibility that will allow them to become better, faster and stronger in high school…

It is crucial to reduce the risks of injury for the young wrestlers entire career. Start young!!

A couple of good examples of Active ROM exercises are: Hip Circuits, Ankle Alphabets, and Leg Raises.

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