Kyle Snyder takes down Magomed Ibragimov of Uzbekistan at the World Championships (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Kyle Snyder posted a note Thursday to followers on Instagram and Twitter stating that he will be living and training in State College. The move to the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club will join him with Olympic champions Cael Sanderson and Jake Varner, as well as 2018 world champion David Taylor.
The move is a surprise to many close observers of the sport. Snyder is seen as hyper loyal to Ohio State and his brand Rudis. However, it became evident at the past two World Championships that he was no longer growing his wrestling repertoire. After this year's Worlds there were even some rumors he might move to the Olympic Training Center.
Instead, Snyder is headed to Penn State. The move will certainly have a major impact on the RTC landscape, but it's unclear yet what immediate changes we can expect from Snyder's wrestling. Will the improvement in training partners and number of internationally successful coaches translate into better gamesmanship, or will it be a more technique-focused change?
I tend to think the latter. Snyder needs more offense. He needs to work the head more, open up better angles, and blow through his shots. The Snyder we saw in 2015 was also a little more flexible -- capable of exerting strength from compromised positions, and finishing his go-to moves, like the first low single against Gadisov. Working with a Gumby-like Taylor is absolutely going to mean an improvement in scrambling and body awareness in general.
The 1200-pound Gorilla in the room is Snyder's lifting. Being strong is incredibly important, but its seemed to have a negative impact on his conditioning, flexibility, and strength in those aforementioned compromised positions. A good leaning out might be another adjustment that new coaches and a new surrounding can offer. Regardless, the message will need to be that the changes should be top to bottom -- it can't just be refining a low single.
Snyder is an all-time great wrestler, in part because he makes tough decisions to get better in the sport. He forwent his senior year in high school to move to the Olympic Training Center, wrestled for Ohio State in 2016, and he traveled to Krasnoyarsk in January hungry to find any competition he can. This was another difficult, emotional decision that seems to me to be right for the development of his wrestling.
The 2020 cycle is about to kick off and the drama is only starting. The next several months will be interesting to see where some top athletes choose to compete, and just how they compete at those new weights. (Also, does this mean Bo Nickal isn't making the move up to 97 kilograms?)
I for one am now excited about this reboot and seeing just how potent a Cael-trained Snyder will look in early competition. I think 2.0 is going to surprise a lot of people, or maybe confirm their preexisting thoughts about the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club's impact on top-tier talent.
To your questions ….
Q: Think about all of Kyle Snyder's new training partners!
-- Brian D.
Foley: Yeah, it's a great starting point for any top-level athlete to have fellow top-level athletes who are able to train with you directly. While it's vital, also remember that they will fly in athletes to train alongside this roster, which is now even more appealing to upperweights from other countries looking to brush up, like Taha Akgul.
Eric Thompson (if he's still on the mats)
And you have Cody Sanderson and Casey Cunningham coaching. What a setup!
Q: With all the success that Penn State has had the last few years on the mat, has that negatively affected their recruiting, and have they lost their recruiting mojo?
-- Rick B.
Foley: No. They just recruited Kyle Snyder! I don't follow the high school recruits as much, but always consider that no matter what an athlete is ranked coming in they need to be developed. Penn State remains the best college in the country for developing top-level talent.
No mojo needed.
Kyle Snyder vs. Abdusalam Gadisov -- 2015
Kyle Snyder vs. Abdulrashid Sadulaev -- 2017
Kyle Snyder vs. Abdulrashid Sadulaev -- 2018
Kyle Snyder vs. Sharif Sharifov -- 2019
Snyder Level 10 (Movie)
Q: Bo Nickal has expressed interest in transitioning to MMA after wrestling. Do you think he will be as successful as other wrestlers that have done it?
-- Gregg Y.
Foley: Success in MMA is basically a function of how much suffering you are willing to endure. While Bo Nickal is a freak wrestler, he will still need to learn how to strike, HOW TO TAKE A PUNCH, and submission grapple. I think that the grappling will come naturally and that he has the frame to be a massive success on the grappling circuit and give him enough to stay clear of being subbed in the cage.
Again everyone's weakest point is the combination of learning how to strike and having to suffer in relative obscurity for a few years before having the talent and marketability to get premier, money-making fights. Best case: Nickal is headlining a Bellator card in 2.5 years, and that's an absolute best case. It'll really depend on where he chooses to train, who he hires as an agent, and what opportunities drop into his lap.
And finally, a lot relies on being able to take a punch to the liver or a kick to the head. Pain tolerance and being able to game plan and counter in real time are ultimately what makes fighters bad, average, or great.
Q: Do you ever think we will see MMA in the Olympics?
-- Gregg Y.
Foley: Never. The IOC has zero interest in allowing organizing committees to add a brutal combat sport. They are 194 times more likely to add eGaming to the Olympics than to allow athletes to get bloodied up at their event. To put this in finer perspective, United World Wrestling no longer sanctions amateur MMA (though it does recognize Pankration).