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manyak

Lefty/Righty Stance in different nations

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Something I've noticed over the years of watching and training wrestling is that foreign wrestlers have a way higher proportion of left-leg lead wrestlers than Americans. In addition to that, I've noticed a lot of foreign wrestlers seem comfortable leading with either leg and switch it up depending on the situation. I've seen Sadulaev lead left the entire match, lead right, or also matches where he does both:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=577kjiqideM

 

It seems like 90% of American wrestlers lead with their right leg and never change it.

 

Anyone have any insight in how Iranians wrestle? They seem to wrestle a more 'American' style but they do it better than us. At the recent world cup they were very good with their low stances and powerful underhooks and push outs. I don't think I've seen much stance switching and although their stances aren't as exaggerated as some American stances, they aren't as loose as many Russian wrestlers who tend to stand more upright and relaxed. From what I've seen they tend to have more lefty leg leads than Americans but not as many as Russians.

 

I do see more left leg leads at the higher levels of American wrestling but at the youth and high school level it seems like a lot of coaches force kids to lead right because most kids are right handed and it is easier to teach.

Edited by manyak

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I think it stems from leg attacks being a much greater emphasis early on with Americans.. And most American coaches make sure that the kids can hit a sweep single to one leg and an outside head finish to another. From the limited workouts I did w Russians it seemed like leg attacks were only a portion of offense they used, so maybe a lead leg wasn't as important or they have offense from differing sides... ie. Good w an underhook from one side and Russian tie from the other, etc.

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I noticed in the Sadullaev sparring video that he shot high crotches to both sides and I'm pretty sure he can firemans to either side too. I notice most wrestlers here don't like to get out of their comfort zones. They have a high crotch side and a single to the other leg usually. People who can become proficient with both sides basically double their scoring potential. 

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I don't know how much this applies to international wrestling, but a local coach I know well (and who's had a lot of success) pushes kids as much as he can to become proficient leading with the left leg in neutral and lining up on the right side in the referee's position. His philosophy is that since 90% of high school wrestlers are more comfortable attacking a guy who leads with the right leg and escaping from someone who lines up on the left side in referee's position, that there is an advantage to be gained by doing it the other way. 

 

Maybe its a similar tactical decision that international wrestlers make because they believe it give them the ability to adopt the stance that works in a given match. 

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I suck at wrestling left leg lead; I bet being good at both to be a huge advantage.

 

Just one example; when coaching mma guys who often lead left , I've noticed how easy it is to pick up that single (since my lead right foot is right next to theirs). Yazdani, who leads left, picks up a lot of right legs really easily. Imagine being a fluid stance switcher; you can always give yourself the preferred shooting position.

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For kicks, just went into my stance, and yup, right lead.

 

If I may digress a little off the OP, but somewhat related since we're speaking of other countries. And maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like some of the stronger wrestling countries are better at pulling out something from their bag of tricks and scoring big when they get into trouble.

 

One example might be the Ramos-Cuba match where Ramos was in on a single at 4:13 in second period then gets exposed, and again at 4:18, then lights out. That match is posted on the Ramos thread. 

 

So many times, I've seen the Russians do counters out of nowhere and scored big when it looked like they were in serious trouble.

 

Back to the OP. Manyak, I'm going to be a little more aware of the leg leads from now on. Nice OP.

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Sadulaev may change up his stance depending on his opponent's stance so he can set up his fireman's.  The Georgian was a left leg lead so Sadulaev set up left, Salas is a righty so Saulaev lead with his right.    

 

I think when you start wrestling you should lead with your writing hand leg.  If you are a lefty your left hand has a higher degree of coordination so why wouldn't you want to use that hand as your primary attack hand?  

 

The Russians seem to really focus on technique so maybe they are so skilled that they get to the point where learning everything to the other side becomes the natural evolution.  I know with my high school team I'd love for them to be able to shoot every attack to both sides of their opponent but my time with them is limited.  

 

I think the American system would be smart to have coaches follow wrestlers throughout their developmental years rather than pass them on to the next coach who often has no idea what the previous coach taught them and doesn't continue their sequential development.

Edited by AnklePicker

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Sadulaev may change up his stance depending on his opponent's stance so he can set up his fireman's.  The Georgian was a left leg lead so Sadulaev set up left, Salas is a righty so Saulaev lead with his right.    

 

I think when you start wrestling you should lead with your writing hand leg.  If you are a lefty your left hand has a higher degree of coordination so why wouldn't you want to use that hand as your primary attack hand?  

 

The Russians seem to really focus on technique so maybe they are so skilled that they get to the point where learning everything to the other side becomes the natural evolution.  I know with my high school team I'd love for them to be able to shoot every attack to both sides of their opponent but my time with them is limited.  

 

I think the American system would be smart to have coaches follow wrestlers throughout their developmental years rather than pass them on to the next coach who often has no idea what the previous coach taught them and doesn't continue their sequential development.

Great points. But I think the mentality shouldn't be to focus on the moves with your dominant hand. Yes it will give you an initial boost, but in terms of investing for the athletes future training both sides should develop their overall coordination. Developing your skills as a wrestler should be about putting yourself in uncomfortable situations not sticking to what you're good at naturally.

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Maybe you guys are over thinking it.

 

I have been to a ton of countries and always sit and watch the kids practices when I am shooting the sht or bored.  Never once have I seen a coach who tells kids what leg to lead. 

 

My guess is that most people in America have very little exposure to developing youth or young adult wrestlers from other countries.  I have.  I havent noticed anything different than America.  Wrestlers lead with whatever leg they feel most comfortable with for a particular attack.  Good wrestlers can switch that, in pretty much all countries, including America.

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 a local coach  pushes kids as much as he can to become proficient lining up on the right side in the referee's position. His philosophy is that since 90% of high school wrestlers are more comfortable escaping from someone who lines up on the left side in referee's position, that there is an advantage to be gained by doing it the other way. 

 

 

That's how my youth coach taught me, and that's how I teach my beginners now. The cool part is that you have the top guy line up "normal" on the left side for drills for the bottom guy, so the kids can ride both sides a little early on. 

 

edit: formatting 

Edited by GranbyTroll

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Maybe you guys are over thinking it.

 

I have been to a ton of countries and always sit and watch the kids practices when I am shooting the sht or bored.  Never once have I seen a coach who tells kids what leg to lead. 

 

My guess is that most people in America have very little exposure to developing youth or young adult wrestlers from other countries.  I have.  I havent noticed anything different than America.  Wrestlers lead with whatever leg they feel most comfortable with for a particular attack.  Good wrestlers can switch that, in pretty much all countries, including America.

 

The youth practices I've seen in other countries have kids doing moves from both sides, the coaches make them do firemans and shots to both sides

 

The typical high school or youth practice in America have kids shooting right handed high crotches from a right leg lead, maybe a sweep single to the right side from a right leg lead, and lining on on the left on referees position. There does not seem to be a big emphasis on being able to do the same technique to both sides. In general there is a paucity of diversity of technique in American wrestling rooms. I see a huge overreliance on a right handed high crotch in high school wrestling.

 

I am not suggesting Russian coaches tell youth wrestlers to lead left even if they feel more natural leading right or they are right handed. I am saying they seem to emphasize being able to perform techniques from both stances and for some reason this leads to a ton of left leg leads in Russian wrestling. I am unsure why there are so many lefties in Russian wrestling, it can't be because there are that many left handed people.

 

From the top of my head for the last few years

 

left leg lead Russians: Sadulaev (mostly), Gadisov (mostly), Gatsalov, Bogomoev, Goygereev, Urishev, Geduev

right leg lead Russians: Tsargush, Tsabalov, Lebedev, Otarsultanov

 

I checked out video of the Russian 2014 team: 57 right 61 left 65 right 70 right 74 right 86 left 97 left 125 left

 

That is a 50/50 ratio. The worldwide percentage of left handed people is about 10%.

 

Try to think of left leg lead American wrestlers off the top of your head.. the only ones I can think of are all in the same weight class: Metcalf, Oliver, and Pico

 

USA 2014 team: 57 right 61 left 65 left 70 right 74 right 86 right 97 right 125 right

 

Apparently Kennedy is a lefty 

 

It could just be a fluke but I struggle to think of left leg lead American wrestlers.

 

If you watch Russians wrestling each other it is incredibly common to see two lefties wrestle. I rarely see it at the US Open or World Team Trials.

 

I don't follow Iran's team closely but if you want to see why a left leg lead may be advantageous, look at a Reza Yazdani highlight. He won 2 world championships off a foot step snatch single on right leg leads:

 

 

As far as good American wrestlers who switch stances, I can't think of any Americans who do high level shots to both sides. I can think of some Americans who shoot a low single or ankle pick with their left leg leading but who lead right in every other situation. Varner does this. I would guess this is a result of wrestling mostly right leg lead wrestlers (left leg lead vs right leg lead puts your lead feet close to each other) and people preferring to collar tie with their right hand. Clayton Foster got torn up vs Iran in the World Cup because he kept reaching with his right hand and he is a right leg lead. The Iranian just popped his arm and hit an easy right handed high crotch a bunch of times.

Edited by manyak

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There are lots of American College lefties, but nowhere near the percentage in Russia.

 

Some other notable lefties who will be competing in freestyle this year: Logan Stieber, Alex Dieringer, and Nathan Tomasello.

 

There aren't many Americans who can shoot well to both sides, but there are some. Cael Sanderson and Ed Ruth are righties but can shoot to either side (not every move).

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I think a lot of it has to do with what manyak says... That they work to get proficient at both sides and it results in more lefties. Also, this may sound like over-simplifying it... But could part of it just be tradition? If a young kid gets taught by someone who is lefty, I think they have a much greater chance of hitting move same way... Regardless of right or left hand dominance. Our one elementary coach was lefty and it was remarkable how many kids from his time frame ended up wrestling lefty.

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As far as good American wrestlers who switch stances, I can't think of any Americans who do high level shots to both sides. I can think of some Americans who shoot a low single or ankle pick with their left leg leading but who lead right in every other situation. Varner does this. I would guess this is a result of wrestling mostly right leg lead wrestlers (left leg lead vs right leg lead puts your lead feet close to each other) and people preferring to collar tie with their right hand. Clayton Foster got torn up vs Iran in the World Cup because he kept reaching with his right hand and he is a right leg lead. The Iranian just popped his arm and hit an easy right handed high crotch a bunch of times.

I looked for the article and can't find it, but I remember reading that Metcalf came to Iowa hitting high crotches to both sides and his coaches told him to pick one side and become world class at it -- so Metcalf ended up being a left-handed high crotch guy.

 

The attitude in America is that you can only master a handful of moves, and you need many repetitions in order to get these moves down pat.

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Yeah I know why but I believe it's somewhat of a misconception.

It has to do with your dominant leg, not your dominant hand.  So, your trail leg should be your power leg, so it can explode up and either drive or cut the corner best.  Think of Fadzaev.  What he does best is cut the corner on his high crotch. He gets deep penetration because he pushes hard off his dominant leg (non-dominant leg actually stays planted), and he cuts the corner faster than his opponents could sprawl and circle away.

This is true in most sports.  Think about how you would kick a soccer ball across the field. You plant with your non-dominant foot and kick with your power leg (or your trail leg).  You drive off your power leg when throwing a baseball or football.  Same thing in boxing with a "knock-out" punch.

So some guys may just feel comfortable leading with their non-dominant leg so they have power off their back leg.  Or in other parts of the world, more emphasis is placed on this dominant leg theory and wrestlers lead with their left leg because their right one is dominant and it doesn't matter which hand they grab a leg with. 

 

But...lead leg in wrestling is usually determined by which hand you attack with. If you are right handed your hi crotch & single will most likely be with your right hand and thus most wrestlers will lead with their right leg unless a coach purposely changes them or that they simply feel comfortable the other way.  For example, I'm left handed and lead right in wrestling but I believe this is because my dad used to box with me when I was young and as a southpaw my right foot is forward and when I learned to wrestle it just felt comfortable to lead right.  Maybe some of those other guys played other combat sports when they were younger and just felt comfortable leading with their left leg.  I really don't know. 

That said, I don't believe most international wrestlers lead with their left foot.  I think if you took a poll you would see most of them lead with their right foot.  It's just that the best ones seem to lead with their left, and that's simply because lefties have an advantage in any sport, wrestling being one of them.

 

However, Turkey & Mongolia in the 70s & 80s had an inordinate amount of left leg leads. If you look at films of their wrestlers from that period, most of them are left leg leads. I don't know why though.  Maybe the coaches at the time were on to something.

 

Many World Champs from the 80s/90s were left leg leads - Beloglazov, Alexeev, Fadzaev, Khadartsev, Khabelov, Gobedjishvili, were all lefties as well as Dave Schultz, Raul Cascaret, & Zeke Jones.

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how prevalent is a squared stance these days? I recall way back when in an SI article on Joe Gnozales, where it mentioned him emulating the squared stance of the stand out Japenese wrestlers of that time.

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The Ukrainian style appears to be square stance.  Think Zakharuk, Aldatov, Tedeev, Stadnyk, Fedoryshyn.  They all have square stances. 

 

Some of the Chechen wrestlers have square stances too like Otarsutanov, Shahin, Batirov, Goygereev, etc.

 

My college coach, Jim Peckham, told us that the benefits of the square stance is that you are able to attack the guy equally to either quadrant.  The drawback is that you can be attacked equally as well and recommended a sugar foot stance.

 

For all the guys mentioned, although they may have square stances, they still have a dominant side to which they attack.

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