Wrestling Training Tips For Pre-Season
Kendall Cross
Olympic Gold Medalist
October 1997

"Today's Preparation Determines Tomorrow's Success"

"All worthwhile things come from hard work and careful planning."

Goal Setting

In considering how you should approach the upcoming season, you must develop your long-term and short-term goals. Consider what you want to achieve this year, and then set a plan for achieving. Follow that plan with specific training to accomplish your goals. This excerpt is for the serious wrestler.

First, set very lofty goals for yourself. People that work hard toward their goals tend to attain their goals. Therefore, if your goals are merely average, then your accomplishments will be merely average. I have always set extremely high goals for myself. By doing so, I expected much more from myself than I would have without those high goals in place. My favorite quote concerning goal-setting is this:

"If you want to sail the high seas, you can't be afraid to step away from the shore."

I don't know who wrote it, but it holds a lot of truth. By the way, if you haven't noticed by now, I dig quotes!

Second, consider what it will take for you to accomplish your goals. This means you should set short-term goals as your blueprint for reaching your long-term goals. Think about what you should do daily, weekly, and monthly in pursuit of your dream. Do yourself a favor by writing your goals down on paper. This will give you a visual that you can refer to at any time. While training for the Olympics, I placed my goals all over my house. By doing this, I could constantly be reminded of my daily objectives. For example, on my fridge, I placed a sign that said "Eat right & you will win!" Over my bed, I placed a sign that said "Get up & work out while your opponent sleeps!" I was motivated by these little extras. They made a difference in my training habits.

Training Specifics

Now let's talk about the specific training. In the pre-season, it is important that you develop a good aerobic base for endurance, and maintain a lifting program for strength. You should not neglect these two aspects of training in the pre-season. Consider your pre-season to be a training phase that conditions your body for the intensity of a long season.

The Run

I recommend long-distance running to develop your aerobic shape. If you haven't been working out, start out with 2 to 3 miles every other day (M-W-F). After about one week, increase your distance to 4 miles. Gradually increase your distance to 5 miles. Challenge yourself on these runs. Strap your Ironman to your wrist and time your 5-mile runs. Try to decrease your times on each run.

The Lift

First and foremost, I recommend consulting a weight training coach for proper lifting techniques. You don't want to injure yourself before you're out of the starting gates. Lifting during the pre-season should consist of heavier weights with less repitition for three days a week. By that, I mean you should lift in sets of 3 or 4, and within each set, do 8-10 reps. Try to use "wrestling specific" lifting techniques. Full-body lifts such as the clean & jerk and the hang-clean are good for wrestling. As wrestlers, we utilize our pulling muscles. Rope climbing is great for wrestlers. The Russians are big on rope climbing. Also, lifting helps in avoiding injuries. I wasn't crazy about lifting, but forced myself to do it. It paid off.


Also, I want to emphasize the importance of stretching. Flexibility is a weapon! Not only can you avoid injuries with good flexibility, you can get out of many compromising positions. Stretch as often as possible. At least once a day. Stretch while doing your homework, while watching TV, and always after workouts.

Keep in mind this is not comprehensive training advice. Discuss your training plan with your coach. Chances are, he has "been there & done that." I learned a great deal from my coaches. That's why they are the coaches. I wish you all the best in your upcoming season! And here's another quote for you:

"Victory comes at a price. The question we must ask ourselves is: What are we willing to pay?"

Go get 'em! Kendall Cross - Olympic Gold Medalist

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