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Technology brings wrestling lessons home

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a huge impact on our lives. Disrupting long-standing ways of doing things. Like conducting wrestling practice in these times of shuttered schools, "shelter-in-place" orders, mandatory "home schooling" and "social distancing."

Even in these challenging times, there are ways you can use advanced technology and distance learning to help your wrestlers master the vital skills to become even more successful in the oldest and greatest sport.

To help coaches and wrestlers come out on top in these trying times, InterMat thought now is the time to share proven wrestling techniques by using available distance-learning technology from multiple sources.

As we see it, there are at least two options to conduct wrestling lessons and training sessions using distance-learning technologies.

Share your proven wrestling instruction using the latest-and-greatest tech tools. (We'll introduce you to a trio of experienced coaches around the country who are making technology work for them to instruct and inform wrestlers even when wrestling rooms are shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.)

Tap into the considerable educational resources of USA Wrestling.

Coaches like you share what works for them

Fellow coaches are using their proven techniques -- along with today's technology -- to conduct wrestling practice remotely ... ensuring the safety you and your wrestlers deserve in these times of social distancing.

In just the past week, I came across wrestling coaches in opposite corners of the country -- one in the Pacific Northwest, one in the Southeast, along with a yet another in the Northeast -- who are overcoming obstacles to instruction in the era of coronavirus. Let's take a look at each facility.

Sweet Home, Oregon: Despite the cancellation of local sporting events and stay-at-home orders, a wrestling coach in Sweet Home, Ore. wrestling coach is making sure his athletes are still training."

"We can't get to a mat right now so we needed to come up with something that people can do from their living rooms or outside," Steve Thorpe told KTVL-TV. "Without being able to come together with a big practice, this is kind of what we came up with."

Since the first Facebook live practice on March 26, Thorpe said his online training sessions have had over 6,000 views.

"We've had such a big following that I have people reaching out wanting to be a part of running the sessions and I get a lot of pictures sent to me from the kids and parents working out and doing it with the kids."

See for yourself. Get in on the Sweet Home High School wrestling's practice sessions by visiting the Oregon Wrestling Association's Facebook page . (They host several practices throughout the week.)

North Alabama Elite Wrestling Club coach Jason Guyton uses Zoom to watch his wrestlers at home

Sweet Home, Alabama: Two thousand miles to the southeast of Oregon, a wrestling club coach in Athens, Ala. isn't letting COVID-19 stop him from training his wrestlers. Instead, Jason Guyton is now instructing his mat stars from a distance ... using Zoom, a technology tool usually used by businesses to bring together individuals virtually from multiple locations, providing services such as video conferencing, online meetings, chat and mobile collaboration.

"We're not sitting around being idle," said Guyton, who has been involved in wrestling for thirty years, and now coaches at North Alabama Elite Wrestling Club.

"I have a parent who advised me about the Zoom app," Guyton said in an interview with WZDX-TV. "There's a feature called 'gallery' which lets me watch all my wrestlers at home (during practice) and they can see me and see each other too."

New York-New England border: Grant Paswall owns GPS Wrestling, a traditional wrestling training facility located in Armonk, N.Y., just north of New York City on the New York/Connecticut border, that works with wrestlers "from ages 3 years and up," to quote Paswall, who wrestled at Blair Academy, then at University of Illinois, and Cal State Bakersfield prior to launching his own business.

When asked how GPS Wrestling made the move to distance learning, Paswall replied, "We made the call first to close down the facility for a couple weeks and put a "pause" on things (prior to shelter-in-place rules were put in place). We decided to do our part to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus before the government had made the decision to shut down gyms and other sports facilities."

"For our last in-person classes, we put together a schedule for them to work out at home, and talked about film review. Then later, I put out four videos on Instagram, skills you can work on by yourself. I also asked wrestlers to put together their own their own videos to make connections, getting them to think about how to use technology to continue learning and working out."

"I've created a curriculum for online learning -- eight basic fundamentals -- the stuff that's basic to successful wrestlers," Pasweal continued. "I wanted to share what has worked for me at my facility, and can work for wrestlers and coaches beyond my area."

Paswall has even gone so far as to encourage coaches and wrestlers across the country to submit their own videos online, so others can benefit from new training perspectives.

To see what Grant Paswall is doing online, visit the GPS Wrestling Facebook page and website.

Put the power of USA Wrestling to work for your wrestlers

The considerable resources of USA Wrestling are available to you and your wrestlers -- anytime, anywhere.

Mike Clayton, manager of USA Wrestling's National Coaches Education Program (NCEP) and owner of Session6Wrestling.com, shared with InterMat some ideas for taking on one of the toughest opponents any coach or wrestler has to take on: the COVID-19 pandemic.

"To help our members focus training on other key areas, USA Wrestling has launched TheMat.tv, a portal with thousands of free wrestling videos, including instruction videos, competition video and interview videos," according to Clayton. "USA Wrestling is also producing daily 'Moments off the Mat' video interviews, which are streamed on TheMat.tv each weekday at 3 p.m."

"We've also launched a new USA Wrestling app to best communicate info to our members:

  • Step 1: Download the free app at "Team USA Mobile Coach App"
  • Step 2: Click the three dashes in the upper right to open the options menu and click "add account" (enter your USA Wrestling ID) Add "USA Wrestling"

    "As coaches, parents, and athletes, we can make gains through education," Clayton told InterMat. "As a benefit to all current Wrestling Leader members, USA Wrestling has made the online Copper (ages 12 and under) and Bronze (13 and over) Certification courses available for free. A $50 membership now provides $130 in free educational courses for a limited time. Having both Copper and Bronze qualifies members to start Silver tasks. These tasks include coaching clinics at the Olympic and Paralympic Training Center and several other tasks that help coaches reflect and refine their coaching philosophies."

    Dan Gable University Legends Series. USA Wrestling's Mike Clayton also recommended these videos for wrestlers who are now unable to train in their usual facilities ... providing over three hours of video tips from amateur wrestling legend Dan Gable.

    It's easy to tap into this knowledge from just about anywhere:
  • Step 1: Access the Legends Series at www.USAWmembership.com
  • Step 2: Click "Extras then "Dan Gable University

    Legends Series pricing:

  • Non-members with guest log-in: $34.95
  • USA Wrestling members: $24.95
    Note: Become a USA Wrestling member ... and save over 20%

    NWCA launches Scholastic Wrestling Webinar Series presented by the US Marine Corps: The National Wrestling Coaches Association has announced the launch of its new coaching development initiative -- the Scholastic Wrestling Webinar Series presented by the United States Marine Corps --timed just right for today's reality.

    "Coaches are currently operating in uncharted waters as they deal with school closings and social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic," according to Mike Moyer, NWCA Executive Director. "It is our hope that these free webinars will help connect coaches and give them an opportunity for continuous coaching development."

    The free webinar series is available for all coaches interested in learning from the team of NWCA Scholastic Leadership Academy facilitators. Membership is not required for participation.

    Each one-hour webinar will be offered on Wednesday and Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. Following the session, the archived video will be available in the NWCA Member's Only Portal for on-demand viewing.

    Here's the schedule for upcoming webinars:

    How a Better Culture Can Improve your Team's Experience and Performance
    Presenter: Dave Crowell, Nazareth High School (Pa.)
  • Wednesday, April 29
  • Sunday, May 3
    REGISTER

    Building Champions: Creating a Culture of Commitment and Mental Toughness This Year
    Presenter: Pete Jacobson, Edgemont High School (N.Y.)
  • Wednesday, May 6
  • Sunday, May 10
    REGISTER

    Long-Term Athletic Development: Age-Appropriate Training/Competition Guidelines
    Presenter: Dr. Dennis Johnson, HEM-VIEW Consultants LLC
  • Wednesday, May 13
  • Sunday, May 17
    REGISTER

    Details for additional webinar topics will be released as they get scheduled going forward. Scheduling updates will be available via the NWCA Events Page.

    Sports psychology tools to enhance wrestling performance in this time of quarantine
    The feature article you're reading is intended to provide practical ideas to help wrestlers develop skills at a time when access to the wrestling room is limited. Now ... here's a development tool that coaches and wrestlers like you may never considered, and, if fact, may not even know about.

    InterMat interviewed Dr. Rob Elliott Owens to learn about his techniques to help athletes (and others) maximize performance and give them a performance edge. Dr. Owens, an adjunct professor in sport and performance psychology at the University of Western States, is a member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) which describes itself as "the leading organization for sport psychology consultants and professionals who work with athletes, coaches, non-sport performers (dancers, musicians), business professionals, and tactical occupations (military, firefighters, police) to enhance their performance from a psychological standpoint."

    The core psychological/mental skills needed for optimal performance for grappling sports like wrestling include the ability to build confidence, set realistic and measurable goals, manage emotions and anxiety effectively, use positive self-talk and mental imagery to prepare for competition, and maintain high levels of intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is about competing for the fun or sake of competition versus competing just to win medals or trophies.

    What's more, Dr. Owens has a background in online teaching, faculty/professional development, wellness coaching, program evaluation, credentialing and accreditation ... the kind of skills coaches and wrestlers will truly appreciate in their search for skills that are relevant.

    In order to enhance an athlete's mental skills, Dr. Owens recommends the following resources for wrestling coaches and athletes:

  • Finding Mastery and Z Wrestling Midset podcasts.

  • Dr. Jim Afremow's Mental Skills Training App for Athletes, and the second edition of noted wrestling historian Mike Chapman's book Wrestling Tough.

  • Mental Skills Training Made Easy. Develop pro level mental skills by following the mental training routines used by the world's top athletes .... Ready for you to download via the Appstore and Googleplay (access download apps by clicking on the link within in the subhead in this section.

  • For athletes looking for a more personal approach to develop their mental edge, Dr. Owens recommends that wrestlers of all levels consider working with a certified mental performance consultant (CMPC). AASP maintains a directory where wrestlers can search for mental skills consultants based on geographic location, sport, and specialization. For additional information, please contact Dr. Owens at reowens@uncg.edu

    Got specific questions for Dr. Owens? Contact him via email him: reowens@uncg.edu.

    Get a great wrestling workout at lunchtime -- online!

    If you're locked out of your wrestling room nowadays, you can still get in a great workout, thanks to Lewis Baker's Facebook group Wrestling Lunch Break -- Live Wrestling Practice (with Rotating Coaches).

    Every day at 12:30-1:30 p.m. ET, the Facebook group lets you get in on a practice session run by some of the nation's best club, private and/or high-level coaches There's absolutely no charge for these unbeatable lessons and coaching. (Feel free to offer payment to the coach's own PayPay/Vemmo account or the charity of the week.)

    What are the lessons like? Most coaches will record a brief introduction to themselves and their lesson plans, along with any equipment that might make it easier for you to complete your workout.

    So tell your friends, tell your teammates, but most importantly check in and check out some of the best the wrestling world has to offer ... for free!
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