Speed Workouts for Collegiate Wrestling

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College wrestling is a highly competitive sport that demands excellence in technique, strength and speed to be successful. If you expect to compete against wrestlers that are vying for the title of national champion in their weight class, you need to obtain every advantage possible. Improving your quickness will help you explode through your moves for more forceful takedowns and holds that your opponent is less likely to counter.

Shadow Drilling

Olympic gold medalist Kendall Cross highly recommends performing shadow drilling from your feet to improve your takedown quickness. During this type of drill, you must imagine your opponent and use a variety of takedowns as quickly as possible. The goal is to explode through the movements as quickly as possible for one to three minutes. This trains your muscles to react quickly to specific wrestling moves. Cross recommends that you perform these drills at the end of your practice, when you are the most tired. This will help you to have the extra speed during the late minutes of a grueling match.

Situational Drilling

Certified strength trainer Ryan Lee advocates a regular speed training program with wrestling-specific moves such as the two-point stance, wrestler’s get-up and resisted takedown drills. The two-point stance drill has you stand about 5 feet away from your partner in a defensive stance. Your partner then throws a tennis ball at your legs or waist quickly, and you must react by catching or slapping the ball away, improving your takedown reactions. Drills such as the wrestler’s get-up or resisted takedown have you start in a specific wrestling situation, such as one wrestler on the bottom or holding the other’s legs for a takedown. When the whistle blows, the wrestler performing the drill must explode through 10 to 20 percent resistance provided by his partner. Each drill is performed for three sets with 5 to 10 repetitions per set.

Explosive Weightlifting

Muscularity and strength beyond your size are common traits among elite college wrestlers. However, a common misconception regarding weight training is that too much muscle will make you slow and inflexible. Sports physiologist Phil Davies says this is not true. Weight training for explosive power will help you generate more force and thus improve your speed. Load your exercises with 75 to 85 percent of your one-repetition maximum, then perform two to five sets of three to five repetitions. Focus on each repetition being as explosive as possible while still maintaining good form. Exercises such as squats and the leg press with this type of training are particularly useful for wrestling.


Plyometrics have a similar effect on your fast-twitch muscle fibers to explosive weight training. Wrestlers often use training sessions with box jumps or jumping rope to improve foot speed and the ability to repeatedly generate powerful pushing force with their legs. You can also perform upper-body plyometric exercises by tossing and passing a medicine ball. You can perform plyometric exercises for a set time period or repetitions, but stop once your form becomes sloppy, or you are not exploding through each movement.