What You Should Know If You’re Getting Started With Wrestling

What You Should Know If You’re Getting Started With Wrestling

Man, I really wish I’d gotten into wrestling in high-school.

Wrestling Class at Renzo Gracies

Wrestling is the #6 high-school sport in America, right below soccer. It’s more popular than cross country, swimming or golf. But almost every time I’m at the gym – rolling with the BJJ guys or training with Nak Muay or talking to people interested in MMA, I still hear the same sentiment: “I wish I’d tried wrestling.”

I think there’s been a resurgence in the popularity of wrestling due to us wrestlers finding so much success in the UFC. 5 out of the 8 current champs are former wrestlers.

So this post is for that guy or girl that never wrestled in high school or maybe you wrestled for a little at the youth level and now that you’re training again, you want to give it a shot.

This post is meant as a very basic overview of the technical principles of wrestling – focusing specifically on the standing position.

The benefits of wrestling are many:

  • It’s universal – every culture has their own form of wrestling
  • Anybody can wrestle – tall, short … heck, even missing limbs don’t hold wrestlers back.
  • Self confidence
  • Discipline
  • Work Ethic
  • Mental toughness
  • Fitness
  • Self defense

Wrestling prepares you to be successful in any walk of life.

The Basics

The first thing I try to teach beginner wrestlers is a deep understanding of the basics. There are a ton of fancy moves I could teach, in fact I love teaching cool looking moves – but that’s not what wins fights. Cool moves are fun, but usually you have to break basic position in order to accomplish them. And I firmly believe you have to know the rules before you can break them.

Position (aka Stance)

The hardest part of any sport, I believe, is staying in good position once the action gets going. In most cases, if you are able to keep your body in a position of strength and athleticism, in the middle of the storm, you’ll exit the other side victorious.

If you take a look at a most sports, you’ll notice a common theme in terms of “proper” position:

  • Legs at shoulder width or more apart
  • Knees bent
  • Weight balanced between your feet
  • Elbows tight to your body (exceptions to this rule are more common)

Look at a boxers stance for example and then take a look at a football middle-linebacker or a baseball player swinging a bat and you’ll notice these positions repeating themselves over and over. I like to use the example of a powerlifter squatting – obviously he takes this position so can lift the most weight, be as powerful as possible. So we want to have the same position in wrestling.

Basic Movements

As I said before, it’s important to maintain your position not just at the start of the match, but as the action gets going. These videos will show you how to move from a good stance to a good attack while maintaining position.


Broadly speaking, you can either attack the legs or the upper body of your opponent. Leg attacks are generally a lower risk attack, which is why they’re the first type of attack I teach begginers.

Leg Attacks

Here are two basic ways to enter a wrestling style leg attack – the plunge step and the drop step.

In the next video, I show how to take these movements and drill them on your own. Getting these two movements figured out before your first wrestling class will give you a huge leg up when starting out. I’ve been wrestling for over 17 years and I still practice the plunge step and drop step every day.

Another way to train your basic leg attack movements. This time with a heavy bag.

Sometimes your initial leg attack fails. But one of the keys to becoming a successful wrestler is persistence. That’s where the knee slide, our next basic movement, is a huge help.

Of course, it might be preferable to get out of the way of your opponent, so you don’t have to resort to the knee slide. The sweep single is getting a bit advanced in terms of movement coordination, but it’s still worthwhile practicing early in your wrestling career.

Upper Body Attacks

Upper body attacks can take a few different forms, the main being throws and what’s known as “short offense”. Although throws look really cool, I don’t recommend them for beginners. It’s just too easy to screw them up, end up falling on your own head and have your opponent fall on top of you.

So, let’s take a look at some short offense – the front headlock:

Then, once you have the front headlock, you still have to get behind your opponent to secure the takedown.

Here’s a sneakier way for you to get the front headlock while fighting in an upper body position.


The most important part of defense is your stance, which I went over in the first section. However, it pays to add defensive movements to your arsenal early in your career. Because offense is “more fun”, most beginners tend to neglect defense. Focus on the things that others neglect and you’ll find yourself having a ton of success.

Stopping Leg Attacks

The downblock is our basic counter to the plunge step. If your opponent attacks, you don’t want to overcommit to your defense. Meet her attack with approximately an equal amount of resistance.

The sprawl is more useful if your opponent really commits to his leg attack.


One of your biggest strengths as a wrestler is going to be your conditioning. I’ll leave you with a great way to incorporate the skills you’ve learned so far into a conditioning drill.

More Wrestling Goodness

Of course, follow my team – NYU Wrestling on social media:
* NYU Wrestling on Facebook
* @NYUWrestling on Twitter
* @NYU_Wrestling on Instagram

Be sure to subscribe to the Flow Athletics Youtube Channel for new wrestling techniques, mindset insights and tons of other good stuff.

Here is one of my favorite articles on Why You Should Wrestle – “Why I Wrestle” by Jake Herbert.

I’m also a big fan of Cary Kolat’s Youtube Channel for more advanced wrestling techniques.

If you’re a wrestler in NYC, you should definitely follow Gotham City Wrestling and Beat The Streets. Especially check out the Beat The Streets Practice Plans, which I helped build out.

And of course, can’t forget about Flowrestling, the best wrestling related site out there.

Finally, any wrestling fan should register at NR4W to help support the sport.

Are you just getting into wrestling? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

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