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Plan of attack for bottom wrestlers

This is an excerpt from Coaching Youth Wrestling - 3rd Edition by American Sport Education Program.

Bottom Techniques

Wrestling from the bottom position can be difficult for young wrestlers because they have to be thinking about getting an escape or reversal while also fighting off the opponent's attempts to gain a pin. Often, top wrestlers are described as having the advantage, and they really do. If they are well coached, they will make the bottom wrestler carry their weight, and they will drive forward, using their leg and hip muscles.

The base position, discussed on page 113, is the bottom wrestler's starting position. If a wrestler gets broken down and the pressure continues, it becomes apparent there isn't much he or she can do while laying facedown on the mat. Indeed, you will hear other coaches encouraging their bottom wrestlers to "Get off your belly." Coaches really mean "Get back to your base." The base position is important because when the abdomen is off the mat and the hips are up, the bottom wrestler can start trying to escape or gain a reversal.

Just as there are several concepts that you can work on with your wrestlers when they are on top, there are also specific concepts that wrestlers should learn when they are the bottom wrestler:

• Keep the hips from going to the mat.

Once down, the bottom wrestler must try to get elevation. If the bottom wrestler hasn't allowed the top wrestler to drive him or her all the way down, the bottom wrestler has a sort of head start. If the bottom wrestler is all the way down, not only does he or she have a lot of work to do to simply gain elevation, but it is doubled or maybe tripled because of the opponent's weight and pressure. Coach your wrestlers to resist going all the way down, whether by a breakdown or takedown, and to think about coming back up instantly.

• Create space.

The bottom wrestler must work to create space between his or her hips and the top wrestler's hips. Almost all escape and reversal techniques depend on getting separation between the bottom and top wrestlers' hips. This concept can be applied in many situations. If the defender starts working to separate the hips from the attacker's on the way down, the attacker will be in a weaker position when he or she hits the mat. That said, if the defender can get even one foot down on the way to the mat, her or she can start walking the hips away so there is already separation when they both hit the mat. In addition, skills to be learned later, such as sit-outs, switches, and hip-heists, are all designed to achieve this separation.

• Get back to the base position.

Bottom wrestlers must work quickly to get the hips up back into the base position after a takedown. Statistically, most near fall or pin situations happen in conjunction with takedowns. This may be because young wrestlers often try to catch their breath or take a few seconds before they start working from the bottom once in the bottom position after a takedown. However, if the bottom wrestler continually works to get the hips up off the mat and does so as quickly as possible after a takedown, the top wrestler will be busy trying to counteract that rather than focusing on getting set for a pinning combination. This is a concept, and maybe a matter of attitude, that you can drill until it becomes instinctive for your wrestlers. If young wrestlers can grasp this early, they will find more success while in the bottom position.

• Feel the pressure.

Bottom wrestlers must feel where the top wrestler's pressure comes from. Many techniques are based on meeting the top wrestler's pressure and then using it to help the bottom wrestler come up to the feet by meeting the resistance.

• Work quickly.

Bottom wrestlers should work quickly so that they do not give the top wrestler chances to settle into dominating positions.

• Know when to use torque.

Bottom wrestlers must learn to feel when to use torque with the hip-heist. The hip-heist, or rotating the hips 180 degrees or more while also spinning the body 180 degrees or more, is a powerful twisting movement that becomes a key part of many techniques.

• Wrestle defensively.

Teach your wrestlers to think of bottom wrestling as a type of attack on the top wrestler, meaning that if young wrestlers are taught to think of it as defense, they will learn the concept of wrestling defensively. Bottom wrestlers must have a plan, so help them plan their attack from the bottom so that they know what they will do before the top wrestler assumes his or her position. The top wrestler's position can dictate the best technique for the bottom wrestler. When top wrestlers are fairly high on the bottom wrestler's back, it's likely that they will work on arm chops or spiral rides. When top wrestlers are well back, it is more likely they will try one of the ankle picks.

The young wrestler's plan when in the bottom position should include several options to cover a variety of situations. For instance, your wrestler might be thinking about an inside stand-up and going through the steps in his or her head, but if the top wrestler comes on high, your wrestler should be able to switch to a limp-arm stand-up or another technique.

These concepts come together as your wrestlers use specific bottom-wrestling techniques such as stand-ups and switches.


A stand-up is a technique for achieving an escape and can be used from the starting position on the mat or during action. The name describes the technique: The wrestler must get to a standing position from the bottom and then complete the escape by turning to face the defender. Although a stand-up is a basic move, when it is done well, it is difficult to counter.

When your wrestler assumes the bottom position with a stand-up in mind, the head should be up with the arms slightly bent and very little weight on the hands (see figure 9.39a). The wrestler's weight should be as far back and as high as possible, and he or she should try to hunch, or curve, the back up high. This elevates the weight before the action starts so there is less distance to travel to get to the feet. And keeping most of the wrestler's weight off the hands counters the effectiveness of an opponent's arm chop.

When the whistle initiates the action, the bottom wrestler explosively thrusts the arms and hands into the mat to drive the head, shoulders, and torso up and back to meet the top wrestler's forward pressure (see figure 9.39b). As the bottom wrestler starts to come up, his or her outside hand should quickly cover the top wrestler's hand that is on the waist and grasp it firmly (see figure 9.39c). As the bottom wrestler comes up, the elbow of the inside arm goes directly to the wrestler's own hip, with the wrist up, to prevent the top wrestler from shooting the hand through that has been on the elbow and locking hands as the bottom wrestler comes up (see figure 9.39d).

The bottom wrestler has several options for the inside arm and chooses one depending on how the top wrestler reacts. If the top wrestler chops, the bottom wrestler can "limp arm" by relaxing the inside arm so that as the chop comes and the bottom wrestler is coming up and grasping the hand on the abdomen, the bottom wrestler lets the limp arm go with the chop. The hand should go to about the hip, with the thumb on the inside (see figure 9.40a), and as the bottom wrestler comes up, the upper body twists a quarter turn away from the top wrestler and the hand is pulled straight up the side of the body, leading with the elbow until the hand is up near the armpit (see figure 9.40b). At this point, the arm is thrust straight up to prevent it from being grasped, while maintaining the cover on the waist hand (see figure 9.40c).

If the top wrestler jams his or her elbow forward, the bottom wrestler explodes and covers the hand as described here. But instead of bringing the elbow in, or limping the arm, the near arm can be driven up and across the bottom wrestler's chest to clear it (see figure 9.41). These techniques work because of the cover on the waist hand. If the top wrestler is able to reach through to attempt a lock around the waist, he or she will be able to grasp only the bottom wrestler's hand that is covering, and this can be dealt with.

This is an excerpt from Coaching Youth Wrestling, 3rd Edition.

More Excerpts From Coaching Youth Wrestling 3rd Edition



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