How to Become a Wrestling State Champion
If a single formula could turn everyone into a wrestling state champion, then all wrestlers would quickly adopt it. Unfortunately, though, becoming a champion isn't just about skill. It also depends on various factors, even a bit of luck. The relative competitiveness of your state, your access to good coaches and your ability to find a supportive team can all make a difference. But if you work hard enough and everything aligns, you may become a champion.
Start training as early as you can. Every additional year you spend training means you get more time to master both basic and advanced skills. Elementary and middle schoolers who don't have access to a school team should consider private training at a wrestling facility or see if they can join another school's team or an intramural league. Early training helps you gain flexibility, strength and skill. It also helps improve muscle memory so that basic moves become automatic and require little thinking.
Listen to your coaches and your peers. This might seem like an obvious strategy, but wrestling is a combat sport that can stroke the ego. Some wrestlers become so invested in proving their toughness that they're unwilling to learn new methods or question the way they do things. If your coach shows you a new maneuver, learn it and practice it even if it doesn't fit your style or you don't think the maneuver is ideal.
Practice outside of your wrestling classes. Wrestling isn't just an athletic endeavor. It's also an intellectual one. The best wrestlers repeatedly go over moves in their heads and design new escapes. When you see your teammates wrestle, contemplate their moves and consider what you might do differently. When you're out and about, consider how you'd react if someone suddenly grabbed your leg, your arm or your torso. This improves your reaction time and helps you develop novel techniques that other wrestlers might not consider.
Focus on conditioning. Strength-training and cardiovascular endurance both play key roles in a wrestler's success. Aim for at least five days a week of cardio, such as running and jumping rope, and do strength-based routines at least three days a week. Your strength-training sessions should heavily focus on core strength. For the healthiest body possible, you'll also need one to two rest days. Take these days to do low-intensity activities, such as yoga.
Enroll in a competitive wrestling team. No matter how good you are, you won't become a state champion if you're never given the chance to compete. You'll also need to impress your coach if you want to be enrolled in tournaments, so practice good sportsmanship. Help other wrestlers master basic techniques and allow your coach to see you testing out new moves.
Take care of your body. Promptly treating injuries and eating a healthy, balanced diet can help you recover quickly and maintain the energy and health you need to succeed.
Avoid cutting weight. Although it can help you make it into a lighter wrestling class, weight-cutting can also stunt your growth and render you more susceptible to injuries and illnesses.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.