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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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.

I hope these ideas are helpful."


The Oregon Wrestling Report is designed to be a central facility on Internet for Wrestling in the State of Oregon. The goal is to promote the sport of Wrestling in the State of Oregon, as well as the world, with the help of interested volunteers.