Drills to improve riding?

What are the best drills and training strategies for becoming a better rider?

I've recently made a return to wrestling Folkstyle after a hiatus of a few years and, unfortunately, I usually end up rolling with these three dudes who are in the 6'2" to 6'5" range, and weigh in the range of 250-280lbs. These guys are explosive on bottom. I just can't hold them down. Both their height and weight are giving me trouble. I myself am 5'8" and weigh 200lbs even.

Even when I wrestled in high school and briefly in college, I was only a decent rider (I could keep most guys down for at least 30 seconds), so now I'd like to improve my riding ability and improve it fast! Any drills for getting better at riding and being able to control a much larger man?

I am not about to give up on the idea of riding them and beating them into submission, so I'd appreciate it if no one posts things like, "Live with it, they are just too big" or anything like that. Any basic drills or training strategies for getting better at riding that those with experience (perhaps you Chip?) can provide me will be appreciated. And any that would specific help me overcome a tremendous heigh discrepancy would be appreciated further still.

Thanks in advance.

The super-bestest ever drill to improve top positioning:

The Home Base Drill.

The drill is actually good for both men, but particularly for the top man. The bottom man gets to practice scrambling on bottom, the top man practices constant pressure and positioning on top.

Here's the drill: bottom man gets in referee's position. Top man gets on top, and hooks his arms under bottom mans arms - try to pinch his chest with your elbows and your hands stay up by his shoulders - squeeze your chest tightly to him. GET OFF YOUR KNEES. Dig your toes into the mat and pressure into him. You should be cocked slightly to one side or the other. Basically, you are more or less in spiral ride position. This is the "home base" position that you never want to get out of.

The drill starts with the bottom man just going fucking bananas. The bottom man does anything and everything he can to get out of there EXCEPT he is not allowed to hit a stand-up. Anything else is game, though - sit-outs, switches, granbies, petersons, whatever. The bottom man is just going absolutely nuts like a buckin' bronco, trying to shake the top man. If he succeeds in escaping, fine. He just gets back down and the drill continues. Bottom man is not allowed to stop moving for even .001 of a second - seriously, he needs to just go nuts.

The top man stays in home base the whole time - just moving with the bottom man, but also slowing him down by keeping pressure on him. Keep those toes dug into the mat, and your chest should be stuck between his shoulder blades like it's super glued. You keep floating on top, hopping from side to side if need be.

Just to reiterate: STAY OFF YOUR KNEES - always stay on your toes as the top man! Just like when you are going live as the top man, you should never be on your knees (except when you are riding legs and a few other rare cases, which we won't get into right now...).

Bonus: this is a GREAT conditioning drill for both top and bottom man. Set up a clock and do 30, 45, or 60 second rounds and take a few turns.

Very simple. Very effective.

Thanks Chip...I know of this drill but we call it "Floating" in my area. But you did bring up the point that the bottom man cannot do a stand up which leads me to ask you, How would I go about learning to control a man trying to stand up that is of the size(s) that I described above in my first post? Stopping their standups is my biggest problem. I try to grab an ankle first thing as the whistle blows, but I guess I have not been able to modify it in such a way that would allow me to control them despite their weight and leverage advantages. Do you have any tips on how to correct this problem? Any other drills or training strategies? Techniques?

Regardless, thank you for your great post above....I really appreciated.

Ah, sorry.

First of all, forget the ankle pick from top. It's just not terribly effective. Note: I think it's a very important/basic technique to learn, but once you're going against good competition, it has limited utility.

You need to stop their explosiveness (upward) by making yourself heavy - my favorite is probably the single most basic breakdown: the elbow chop, knee him in the ass, and drive like hell straight into him. It creates pressure on him, removes a post (arm) and will help keep him down.

If they still succeed in getting up, don't worry, they still aren't out. You may also want to drill getting a man back down from there.

Sorry for the limited response - I've only got a few minutes.

Let me know if that helps though!

Chip, I've just got a couple of questions. I know of a drill to return a person to the mat when the opponent is trying to standup. The drill involves following the opponent to the standup and keeping to their back in a bearhug. To return them to the mat, you lift and knee block/twist to return them to an "all-fours" position.

My question is - should the stand up drill be done as a separate drill to the Home Base drill? Would it be a good thing to incorporate both drills so that the person on top has to react to either response?

Regards BigBrando

"My question is - should the stand up drill be done as a separate drill to the Home Base drill? Would it be a good thing to incorporate both drills so that the person on top has to react to either response?"

BigBrando - I've never thought of that, but it's a great idea!

I know the drill you're referring to, and it's a great drill for both guys - bottom man is practicing stand-ups, top guy practicing lifting and returning to the mat, where bottom guy practices landing like a cat ready to scramble again (I've always heard it called the "Lift/Land" drill, btw). I think there is definitely value to do both the Lift/Land drill and the Home Base drill separately to focus on the different skills involved. But I think combining them would be a good variation to practice proper reactions.

Nice job coach! :)

We did the Lift/Land drill during Monday's practice, and the guys really liked it. I need to get more technical on my standups, though. I forgot about the Home Base drill. We will be doing that one next Monday!

Thanks Chip. I'm just putting in my two cents worth and I'm just happy I made sense for once! haha

I'm going to try all three drills tonight!