Tips for High School Wrestlers

two teenage caucasian male wrestlers from opposing teams face off at the beginning of a match

Wrestling is one of the most popular high school sports among boys in the United States -- with more than 270,000 boys from public and private U.S. high schools participating in the 2012 to 2013 school year, along with about 8,700 girls -- according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Refining your technique and being smart about your training can help you become a healthier and more successful wrestler, perhaps even putting you in contention for a state championship.

Try Something New

Adding new moves to your repertoire gives you more go-to options when you’re in a tough match. When you first learn a new move or hold, it’s likely you won’t execute it well -- particularly if the move is complex -- so try it out in practice before you use it in a match. In particular, try your new moves when you practice with inferior wrestlers. If you try to execute a new technique against a good wrestler, you’re likely to end up on your back, which limits your learning potential. Working against a lesser wrestler lets you practice the new move until you get it right.

Think Positive

Positive thinking can be a powerful tool for any athlete, including wrestlers. Find some positive thoughts to focus on before every match. You may think about how well you’ve trained that week or visualize yourself performing your favorite single-leg move and taking your opponent down. If any negative or nervous thoughts pop into your head before a match, immediately focus your thoughts on the positive images you’ve already prepared. You can apply this technique in other areas of your life as well, always replacing negative thoughts with positive ideas, to maintain a happier outlook.

Take Your Man Down

The key to many matches is taking down your opponent. A takedown is worth two points, but it can also lead to a near fall, which nets you two or three more points, or a pin. You can take your opponent down in numerous ways, but developing strong footwork and a good stance puts you in a better position to use those moves. To set your opponent up for a takedown, maintain good balance with your feet spread wide and your knees bent. Keep your arms close to your body, because an arm that wanders away from your torso can be attacked more easily. Make your penetration move -- such as stepping forward quickly and grabbing both legs behind the knees -- as soon as you see an opening.

Watch Your Weight

High school wrestling contains 14 weight classes, so you must watch your weight carefully throughout the season if you wish to remain in the same class. By keeping a close eye on your weight, you learn which actions cause you to gain weight, knowledge that can benefit you for the rest of your life. To maintain your weight, eat a healthy diet, deriving protein from lean meat, fish, nuts and eggs. Avoid fried and packaged foods. High school wrestling coach Bill Swertfager recommends eating six small meals per day, while avoiding large meals late in the day. Don’t rely on last-minute fasting to remain below your weight limit because fasting slows your metabolism and may lead to excessive weight gain when you begin eating again.