Wrestling Training Tips For Increasing Foot Speed and Coordination
Kendall Cross
Olympic Gold Medalist
November 1999

"Allow your daydreams to become your plans."

"If it were easy, everybody would be doing it."

How and Why

Throughout the many camps and clinics I conduct, I have been asked how to increase foot speed and agility. Foot speed in wrestling can be an advantage, but keep in mind, it doesn't necessarily make or break your chances of winning. The good wrestlers, whether they are fast or slow, will adjust their strategy to accommodate their strengths and weaknesses.

For example: Dave Schultz, Olympic & World Champion, and arguably the most technical wrestler we've ever had, claimed he was not as fast as many of his opponents. Therefore, against faster opponents, he always maintained a controlled tie-up in order to close the distance from his opponent. By controlling a tie-up, Dave was able to achieve two objectives. One: he was close to his opponent and could use the tie to set up an attack. Two: he eliminated his opponent's chances of using speed from outside (of tie-ups) because he forced a tie-up.

Conversely, Kenny Monday (Olympic Champion, 1988) possessed incredible speed. His comparative advantage was to attack from outside (of tie-ups) in order to utilize his speed. His opponents had difficulty reacting to his quick attacks.

So, here are three exercises you can perform to increase your foot speed.

1. Shadow Drilling:

Drill your standing techniques (from your feet) as vigorously as possible (sans partner) for intervals of 1-3 minutes at a time. The idea is to create constant motion while executing your standing techniques. This builds your endurance for fast twitch reaction and cardiovascular capacity. This exercise is best performed after practice when your body is fatigued. John Smith (6-time World Champion & 2-time Olympic Champion) was the consummate shadow driller. John spent many hours shadow drilling. If you've had the pleasure of seeing him wrestle, you've noticed his incredible speed and agility.

2. Jump-roping or Speed-roping:

Jumping rope develops foot movement that is so desired by boxers, who must be quick and agile on their feet. It develops the cardiovascular system as well. Jump rope as often as possible, and at least 15 minutes before and after each practice.

3. Box Jumps:

Box jumps are executed using a sturdy wooden box (or any sturdy platform) that stands about 1 to 2 feet high from the floor. Standing next to the box, you jump up onto the top. Then you immediately jump off to the other side. So, in essence, you are jumping from side to side with the box positioned in the middle of your jump. You will land on the box each time you jump to the side, and will continue by landing on the other side of the box.

Box jumps improve quickness as well as power in the legs. They are also effective in developing the cardiovascular system. As a wrestler at Oklahoma State, we spent many practices jumping on and off of wooden boxes. Not much fun, but great for foot speed.

Go get 'em! Kendall Cross - Olympic Gold Medalist

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