Why Do The Best Wrestlers Do Both a Club and School Practice During the Season?

Simply put, practice makes perfect. There's no such thing as "too much mat time."


I recently moved to North Florida from Pennsylvania, specifically the WPIAL Region. That 40 square mile radius produces more NCAA All Americans each year than any other region (and most states) in the entire Country. Why? There are a few different reasons. In my opinion, the #1 reason is the amount of wrestling clubs.


When I was younger, my elementary wrestling coach suggested that every wrestler also attend a club. I'll never forget this quote... "the best wrestlers are the ones that work the hardest and practice the most." I resisted, but quickly learned my peers were progressing much quicker than me. While I got by at a young age on pure aggression and a little technique, those club-goers quickly caught up and passed me. So my dad did me a huge favor. He put me into Rob Waller's All American Wrestling Club in Latrobe, PA. Quickly, the winds started changing, and I was racking up wins again. It wasn't simply joining the club that made the W's pile up. It was what happened at the club.


I was exposed to new types of coaching. I met and competed with kids who were way better than me (some of them are still very good friends of mine 20+ years later). While these new practice partners whipped my behind, I learned something from each loss in the practice room. Quickly, I found myself picking up the things my club and school coaches were showing me, and implementing them in matches. By the time I turned 11 years old, I'd already won a PAJW (Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling) State Championship.


I attribute that early (and future) success to joining a wrestling club. It was the mat time that was key. Being on the mat for 4-5 extra hours per week is everything. Especially if your peers aren't matching your dedication. It's like anything in life; those that put in the extra work reap the biggest rewards.


This extra mat time meant that my parents had to drive me an hour each way, three days per week. There was an extra financial burden on a low income household with three children, but they figured it out. They made it happen for me without question because they wanted the best for me. For years. The day that I got off the phone with my future college coach and was able to tell my parents that I'd earned a scholarship and they wouldn't have to worry about trying to pay my way through school was a great one. And it was all made possible because of a simple decision that my dad made when I was 8.


As a parent of two children, I also want the best for my kids in life. I'd imagine you're the same. I always tell my 13 year old that anything that's worth doing is worth doing right. If your son or daughter is going to wrestle, it's worth joining a club. Even if it's not mine (though I hope you'll consider Grappling House). My best advice for wrestling parents is to set your child up with the best chance to be successful. And the best way to do that is by getting them extra mat time, different styles of coaching (every coach has a different approach), and practice partners outside of their normal school affiliated practices.


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