It can become very easy to get bogged down trying to watch every detail, of every match, of every athlete on your team. You can't fix it all and some things may or may not be bad habits. Instead it simply may have been an error that just happened in that particular bout.
When I made my first World team, I was flown out to Colorado Springs and had my first meeting with the National Team Coach, Bruce Burnett. This meeting was for Bruce and I to get to know each other (I did not really like Bruce back then, but that is a different blog at a later time) and for him to give me some areas to work on before we started the World Team training cycles.
Like I said, I was not Bruce's biggest fan at the time, I had just made my first world team, so I'm feeling pretty good about myself, and the first thing he says to me is, "Kolat, you need to work on your front headlock." This made me take a step back and to be honest it occurred to me that this guy knew nothing about me, so I disagree and replied "...that is my best position."
I'm sitting there staring at Bruce across the desk and I think he could tell that my ego and I were in defense mode, so he pulls out a sheet of paper that has my name at the top with a series of positions on it and stats. Bruce had gathered up 20 bouts of me competing and watched the positions that continually came up in my bouts. These positions appeared because of my style and where I forced guys to wrestle me. They were habits that I had formed.
Here is where Bruce was right and I was wrong: I was judging myself on my front headlock performance against college level wrestlers. I had just won the NCAA title and made the World Team and scored consistently from that position. Bruce had my scoring percentage from a front headlock at about 30%-40%, which was much lower percentage than I thought. He had watched 20 of my international matches, not college. I consistently scored with my front headlock at the college level, but not at the next level. I had to sit back in my chair and put my ego in check from a man that I did not trust at this point. I could not argue with the stats. He had done the research, it was in black and white and he was right. His recommendation that I put more time into my front headlock was dead on.
There was of course other positions that he showed me I needed to be more consistent, but what impressed me most was not his recommendations, it was his simple approach for finding this information.
Bruce counted fundamental positions: singles, doubles, high-c's, front headlock attempts. He counted legitimate attempts and how many times you scored in that position to get his percentage.
Example: Wrestler A shot 27 legitimate single legs and completed 7.
7 / 27 = .259
.259 multiplied by 100 = 25.9% of completion
Now you and Wrestler A know exactly where he should spend time working (25% on the single is not the average he should have).
How this fit into Bruce's training camps and how he tailored to each individual was simple: He would pull all the stats for the team members to get his average of how effective we were at gut wrenches, singles, leg laces, etc and plan the macro of the training camps around our weaker areas as a group. Then when you had your individual session, he had key areas for each guy based on that assessment.
How do you apply?
● Watch and count what you consider to be the important areas in all positions.
● Review every athlete on your team or just starters.
● Gather up the data and determine where you are weak when it comes to fundamental positions that continually show up in bouts.
● Pan the team training with focus on these areas.
● Review the data of each wrestler and inform them of where they need to improve as an individual. Show them the stats, in black and white.
Last, when you review video keep in mind athletes have different styles. They have positions that appear for some and don’t appear for others. Not only can video analysis show you where your team or an individual needs to spend time, it can also show them what doesn’t work.
If Bruce had not explained to me why I needed to work on my front headlock, I may not have put the extra time in because I thought I was fine. Many athletes like me aren’t just going to take your word for it. A lot of wrestlers have that one position that has worked for them in the past and they continually go to it when it shows up in bouts or force the position to happen. Maybe they had succeeded using that technique once or twice, but they lose the position more than they win. As a coach, video assessment may be just the thing that allows them to realize I need to STOP using that technique, because I lose more than I win. Prove it to them with black and white stats it worked for me.
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