Hello, I am a high school wrestling coach in Texas. I grew up in Ohio, where I wrestled for 14 years all the way through high school. Played football in college then started wrestling/grappling again after I joined the US Army on the All-Army team. When I retired from the Army I started teaching high school and coaching wrestling. First, Texas is different. Football is king, of course, and wrestling is treated the same as swimming or tennis or any other secondary sport. That's a challenge in itself. Youth programs are spotty and pop up then disappear often. Most of the wrestlers I get are true newbies with no youth experience. They range from freshman up to juniors and even seniors. I am in my second year here in my current school. I inherited a shell of a program with no youth feeder and only 5 kids on the team. I have grown my numbers in this second year, but they are almost all 1st year wrestlers. I am often faced with some unique challenges (relatively unique, not in Texas), which has led me here because I need advice.
I drill basics with these kids every day. Over and over again...stance, motion, pressure, hand fighting, top, bottom...you name it. They do the drills, and they sometimes try the things we drill in sparring, but when it comes to matches, they refuse to do what we drill! It's like they have a brain dump and forget everything. They reach for the head and it just descends to bad wrestling from there. I know...they are new and they will get better with mat time. Is there anything I can do now, though, to start breaking their tendencies? It's frustrating!