Resistance Drilling

In wrestling, we spend a lot of time talking about techniques, about conditioning, etc. In my humble opinion, one of the most important, yet probably the most neglected aspect of wrestling training is coaching someone how to drill properly. Many coaches never even really mention it, which is a F#@*ing crime! It is simply assumed that everyone somehow instinctively knows how to drill.

Here's what I'm talking about...

In high school, the way I drilled was to try to hit a double leg (for example) in a "perfect" scenario. My partner did not resist at all, and if I messed up halfway through, I would simply stop, get re-set, and try it again.

How much does this mimic live wrestling? How many of us have ever attacked a completely compliant opponent? I betting none of us. So why train for the "ideal" wrestling scenario? Why not train for when "the shit hits the fan" which is garaunteed to happen in a live situation?

When I got to college, our coach made us do "resistance drilling", which was sort of strange and exotic to me at the time. What happens is that the "driller" goes at it with 100% intensity; basically, he's going live. The "drillee" goes with about 50% to 75% live resistance. You generally have a plan of attack or specific technique you are working on (let's say it's a simple double leg again), but if you can't succeed with it, you MUST FINISH somehow, anyhow, any way you can!

At first, I found this extremely frustrating. I would think, "Just let me work my stuff, dammit!" It was annoying that my partner was not nice and compliant with me (lol in hindsight). If I didn't beat him around and set him up properly, I wouldn't even get inside on him. So I had to learn to move him and be physical and brutal to really set him up. Once I learned that lesson, I learned that I have to finish IMMEDIATELY once I'm inside on an attack. If I set him up and penetrated well, but then just hung out in double leg position for a few seconds, he would punish me. He would counter at about 50%or 75% resistance.

Another thing that was very important was learning how to flow from one attack to another. Sometimes I completely messed up, and the attack I was aiming for (double leg) wasn't even an option any more. But I needed to get him down, I couldn't just stop and re-set! So I learned how to RAPIDLY change-off or transition to another avenue of attack. I might change off to a head inside single on the other side, or quickly back out and pummel him down into a front headlock and finish him from there. If I'm aiming to hit all double legs in one minute of resistance drilling, I might end up finishing 2 out of 3 as double legs. The other ones were some other finish that I was forced to change off to.

Again, this was incredibly frustrating for me at first. But after only about a month(!) I realized how much I had improved in such a short period of time. I realized how I was hitting moves with far smoother technique AND much greater intensity at the same time! I was setting up my opponents much better and finishing much more quickly. When my opponent countered, it didn't "throw me off" anymore - I simply changed off to another avenue of attack without blinking an eye. Why? Because I had drilled it, over and over and over again. The situation was no longer a novel one.

Resistance drilling is incredibley effective, so why do few people do it? Because it is very hard! You can do "normal" drilling all day and night. But try doing just 10 minutes of proper resistance drilling, and you will be exhausted! It ain't easy. But it's also how the top guys drill their techniques.

Caveat: I don't mean to imply that light drilling has no place in wrestling; it does. Certainly, when you are first learning a particular technique, take it slow to make sure you have the proper technique, positioning, and motion down. And when first doing a warm-up, it's fine to just do some light, free-flowing techniques to get warmed up and ready to roll. But then launch into your resistance drilling with INTENSITY, INTENSITY, INTENSITY.

This can be used in a lot of different scenarios:

Driller working takedowns at 100% intesity, just going absolutely bananas on his partner, drillee resists/counters at about 60% live.

Drillee attacks driller at 60% live while driller works on countering and defensive takedowns at 100% live intensity.

Driller works on escapes from bottom while drillee works to hold him down/turn him at about 60% live.

Drillee works to get out on bottom at 60% while driller works on maintaining control and positioning and going for the pin at live speed.

Resistance drilling can be difficult to get used to at first, but it is essential to learn how to drill properly. You will notice leaps and bounds of improvement of your technique, intensity, and your conditioning (resistance drilling is very difficult from a cardio perspective).

Drill it, drill it, drill it until it's habit, habit, habit.

Good post, very true. Proper way to drill and shitty way to drill.

Drilling right makes such a huge difference. You don't just dance through the moves. Good post.

Great post, this will greatly improve my wrestling. I make this suggestion to my coach during the season; I think this will improve our team greatly. Thanks.

Posts liek these make chip my hero!

Resistence drilling as you call it was also a shocker for me when I got to college! I think the biggest thing it helped me with was my conditioning. A 30 min of risistence drilling is almost enough conditioning for the whole practice, and it helps with your technique.

ttt for chip..........

great post.


lol Scott, obviously, your other thread inspired me to do some writing on the topic. It's a topic that was long overdue for this forum!

Chip, it's a great expansion of your prior comment. Really dig it. I reposted it on "7 Guidelines to Practice" thread on UG.

I like your idea.

On the Moreira,Roy,Jen forum I suggested
the "progressive resistance" method as
a variation or option to yours.

Essentially the "progressive resistance"
is an increase in the "defender" intensity
and defense to the "drillers" technique.

The "driller" does a specific number of
reps of a specific technique. The
"defender" defends against the completion
of that technique at various intensity
levels. At the beginning of the drill
session the "defender" defends at a low
intensity and progress to a higher level
intensity until finally at the end (or near
the end) of the reps the intensity is

This method IMHO give the personing doing
the drills an opportunity to work on the
technique his is drilling on several
different levels without getting too
frustrated or falling into sloppiness
because he was to complete the drill
session so bad because the intensity is
too high for the get go. This method allows
for smoother transitions without
sacrificing intensity.

"This method IMHO give the personing doing the drills an opportunity to work on the technique his is drilling on several different levels without getting too frustrated or falling into sloppiness because he was to complete the drill session so bad because the intensity is too high for the get go."

You seem to be suggesting that resistance drilling is detrimental to technical development. That is the absolute opposite. The whole idea is to practice your technique in a more intense situation. People that can hit "perfect" technique in a "perfect" scenario are a dime a dozen, people that can develop the ability to hit great technique in a pressure cooker atmosphere are the ones that kick the crap out of all of the people that can hit the "perfect" technique.

For example, you mention "falling into sloppiness" because the drilling was too intense. Well, if your partner is going intense, it's going to cure you of your sloppiness real quick. That is EXACTLY THE POINT in resistance drilling!! You are allowed to be sloppy in a non-resistance scenario. In a resistance drilling scenario, your sloppiness will be punished.

I'm not really disagreeing with your method, I suppose, but I am disagreeing with your reasoning behind it.