"Steve Fraser" Olympic Lessons Learned Part 2
Olympic Games lessons learned (part 2 of 2)
By Steve Fraser
In my last column (part 1 of this 2 part column) I spoke about the Rio Games and what I saw as lessons to be learned. The first lesson learned related to how important the intense battle is. I spoke about how an aggressive, no-stop attack and constant pressure toward your opponent is critical.
To reiterate, the second thing I left Rio wondering was how come so many wrestlers at the Olympic level seem to not understand how to secure the victory in a close match? I have written about this in the past, but it remains vitally important to discuss.
Way too many times I saw a wrestler leading in the bout by 1 or 2 points, with 30 or fewer seconds on the clock, and he or she began to back up a bit, or avoid contact, or peak at the clock (to see how many tics were left), trying to slow things down. This KILLS me!
There is a definite skill, tactic, technique and strategy to use when you are winning a tough match in the final seconds. And that tactic and strategy is NOT TO STALL!
Stalling, backing up, avoiding contact, even if just a little bit is the worst thing one can do to secure the victory. The wrestlers who use this tactic are only setting themselves up for disaster. I witnessed it many times throughout the Games. And I just don’t get why there is a lack of understanding in this regard.
On the contrary, as opposed to stalling and avoiding contact, the leading wrestler’s goal should be to out-sprint his or her opponent to the finish line. This most always requires engaging your opponent. What I mean by sprinting and engaging is one must be wrestling a faster pace than their panicking and desperate opponent, who is realizing that he or she needs to score, and score NOW!
You aggressively pick up your pace, with your elbows mostly tight to your side, still in the future, then circling, pummeling, tying up and moving your opponent from side to side, trying to destroy any possible attempt of him/her setting up a final attack or move. You score only if the situation presents itself.
The key to securing your victory in a close match comes down to momentum, which is crucial in closing out a match in your favor. Whoever keeps or establishes momentum in this scenario will have the advantage. Your opponent’s only hope at scoring on you is to create momentum to get something going. Your opponent needs to pick up the pace and catch you off guard. Time is running out so it is now or never for your opponent to make something happen, set you up, force a position where he/she can score.
What helps your opponent greatly is when you try and slow things down. If you are trying to control things by slowing and being careful and he/she is going faster to get something going, you now have created a big difference in each other’s speed. This affects your reaction time and reaction capabilities. He/she is moving fast and you are moving slowly. This difference in speed between the two of you is what creates a huge advantage to your opponent.
Plus, the referee (and everyone else watching) is looking for stalling at this point because this is the situation where stalling is very common, right? So now, the referee will often help your opponent with momentum. The referee, if you are avoiding contact, will now warn or penalize you, giving your opponent more momentum, hope and help. And, of course, a possible penalty point.
If you saw the Mongolian Olympic freestyle match, Mandakhnaran Ganzorig, at 65kg where the coaches protested by stripping down to their skivvies because of a “fleeing “ call by the officials, which cost Ganzorig to lose the bronze medal, you will see what I am talking about. Why would you start celebrating your victory by backing up, circling, putting your arms up in the air, rejoicing, before the whistle blows? Why would you give the officials ANY chance of penalizing you for avoiding your opponent? ESPECIALLY when you are only one point ahead!!
This was a big mistake, in my opinion, by Ganzorig. Instead of his coaches protesting the penalty call, they should have been kicking their wrestlers butt!
Securing the victory should be taught and practiced in the training process. You must never-ever put your match in the referee’s hands. It is our responsibility to take all referees discretion out of the match, so there can be NO opportunity for an official to “ding” you.
Sometimes “lessons learned” come at a very bad time (Ganzorig’s bronze medal match). This is why we must practice these scenarios in the practice room and in real matches as well. Whether you are winning a match by one point or you are winning by nine points, we should always practice, “out sprinting,” our opponent to the finish line, thus “securing the victory.”
As always, enjoy the battle!
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