The Oregon Wrestling Report - Interviews and Guests
Bruce Gabrielson, a successful
Madison HS (Portland) wrestler from the 1960's, a coach for the last 30 years, and
current coach of the Southern Maryland Wrestling Club,
passes on some tips that he has picked up over the years while coaching
National Champions as well as Olympic and World Cup Wrestlers.
"I am an ex-Oregonian who wrestled at Madison HS under coach Jim Smith
during the early 1960s. My family is large and has had many successful
Portland area wrestlers over the years. I was also one of the early day
Multnomah Athletic Club wrestlers during the Rick Sanders era. I
received a scholarship and left Oregon in 1964.
Following a successful college career, I was acting coach and captain
of the US Army Team at Fort Ord, before spending the next 25 years
coaching college, high school, military, national, state and junior
league teams. I have also been fortunate to have coached many national
champions, NCAA All-Americans, HS state champions, and a few Olympic
and World Cup wrestlers along the way. By far my most satisfying
activity is coaching Southern Maryland Wrestling Club, which I founded
in the early 1980's.
Regarding what I can say about successful techniques that have worked
for me, the following might be of use to wrestlers trying to get ahead:
For coaching, my practices are oriented towards lots of mat work with
stretching/loosening up rather than conditioning warmups. I nearly
always have 1/2 hour of intense mat work, followed by 1/2 hour of
non-stop takedowns. During the spring, I also prefer two to three
actual freestyle matches at every practice, with at least one
additional short Greco match. Sticking with semi- structured rather
than open mat practices during the spring and summer has been very
effective for me.
- Make off-season practice a serious activity, especially if you want
a wrestling scholarship. Coaches really look at wrestlers with off
season experience, especially if they are in weaker HS conferences.
Remember that in college you usually only go out for one sport.
Therefore, don't try to be an all-around jock in HS and not
concentrate, at least a few nights per week, on the sport you hope will
get you through college.
- Wrestle in as many tournaments as you can, especially
during the off season. Some states have an A-AA, AAA-AAAA, and a
private school state champion at every weight. The fact that you win
state or that you went undefeated doesn't mean much if you didn't
really face anyone real tough. We are fortunate that in this area there
are USAW, AAU, club, or school sponsored tournaments practically every
weekend year around. As an example of the matches a wrestler can get
here, I have a high school wrestler with 187 matches so far this year,
and a pre-hs wrestler with 157 matches.
- Learn all wrestling styles. Every style has some area of
concentration that will help your overall ability. Folkstyle stresses
control and mat work, freestyle emphasizes takedowns and counters,
Greco develops body locks and arm or shoulder oriented throws, SOMBO
and JUDO greatly develop footwork and hip positioning.
- If you are a very good wrestler, vary your practice with
some weaker partners. Time and again I have seen a good wrestler only
wrestle with another good wrestler. What happens is that only the most
successful moves are used, never anything new. When this wrestler gets
to the nationals, or faces someone with an effective counter to his few
great moves, frustration sets in and losses are likely.
- Go to other practices once in a while rather than staying
with one coach all the time. No one coach knows it all. Even my own
practices have outside coaches as often as possible.
I hope these ideas are helpful."
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