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How to Drill in Wrestling

Oklahoma State wrestlers drillingAlthough wrestling is an individual sport, there are many aspects that require teamwork. Drilling is the biggest example of this. Unless you have a partner that is willing to help you get better, you won’t progress nearly as quickly as you should. Read through this guide to learn some tips about how to make your time drilling more effective.

Don’t Lag

One of the worst things you can do as a drill partner is be lazy. Whether it’s getting up off the mat or transitioning between partners/drills: Never take your time. Understand that time is valuable. The more time you waste, the less you and your partner will develop as wrestlers. You should be eager to drill, and try to get as much done in the time you are given. The best wrestlers don’t waste any time, so you shouldn’t either. If ever you don’t “feel like” giving a 100% effort in your drills, it’s probably time to find a different sport.

Realistic Reactions

There are various ways to drill, and some of them require the defensive wrestler to either be more or less reactive. Depending on the type of drill you are doing, one key tip is to give your partner realistic resistance to his techniques. This means if your partner shoots a horrible double leg on you, don’t fall over and tell him it was a good takedown. If all you do is flop around on the mat when a poor technique is done on you, your partner will rarely be able to hit it in competition. Give your partner a realistic reaction to his offensive techniques.

Drilling, Not Live Wrestling

Related to the previous tip, you can actually react too heavily or defensively to your partner’s technique. Remember, there is a time for drilling and a time for wrestling live. Both serve their own purpose. You shouldn’t be going 100% defensively if your partner is simply trying to perfect his technique. Your partner will never learn this way, and this could even lower his confidence level when he tries to hit the particular technique in a match. Give your partner a realistic reaction so he will be able to gauge whether the technique is working or not (and where to improve it). Pounding away at your partner while he’s attempting to drill his technique will hinder his learning.

Amazingly True Story

Two of America’s top wrestlers, John Smith and Dave Schultz, drilled on the mats before the 1989 Freestyle World Cup. This wouldn’t be out of the norm… except that there was a 40 pound weight difference separating the two! The size and strength difference clearly wasn’t an issue, as both wrestler moved smoothly through their techniques, while demonstrating precision and control.

It’s common knowledge that in order to succeed in wrestling, one must constantly drill his technique until it is crisp and near perfect. However, something that many wrestlers don’t take into account is that in order to get the most out of your drilling, you must know how to drill efficiently. Essentially, this is “drilling etiquette.”


Your job as a teammate, and drilling partner, is to help develop the wrestlers around you. It’s hard to determine whether or not the technique that you are drilling will actually work unless your partner tells you so.

If your partner is drilling a technique that you don’t think will work in a match, tell him… and tell him why. Be constructive with how you communicate. If you let him know what he’s doing wrong, or how it feels to you when defending, he will be able to adjust the technique to make it more successful. Also, be sure to tell your partner what he is doing correctly. If he has been drilling a move that is a sure-fire way to score in a match, tell him!

Take Things Slow

Don’t feel like you have to go at 100% of your normal speed and strength when you start drilling a move you just learned. Instead, slow it down. The number one priority when learning a new technique is getting the mechanics and timing down. Once you feel comfortable, speed it up to resemble how you would hit the move in a match.

Be Aware

Another huge part of being a good practice partner is protecting you partner and teammates from running into one another while drilling. Your partner may not always be aware of their position on the mat, so it is your job as the defending wrestler to signal for your partner to stop a technique if it will put anyone in danger. Mat space can get crowded at times, so it’s especially important to be aware of everyone around you and to control the movements of your partner in order to stay safe.

Mix it Up

It’s beneficial if you have a drill partner with whom you always practice your technique. This will help you establish an efficient routine that will develop your style of wrestling. However, try to mix up your partners as often as you feel comfortable. This is beneficial for many reasons, but will mainly help you understand different types of techniques and styles than you are used to. Training with as many different partners as possible will help turn you into a more knowledgeable, well-rounded wrestler.

Drill for Success

The only way to experience success in wrestling is to drill your moves until they are second nature. Essentially, very little thinking should go into wrestling if your drilling is done correctly. Even when you think you have a move perfected, that still doesn’t mean it will work 100% of the time. You should constantly be drilling both basic and advanced techniques until implementing them in competition becomes natural. You should now have a better idea about how to make the drilling process more effective, so get out there and get after it!

Drilling technique is one of the most influential factors in becoming a successful wrestler. Learn some tips on drilling etiquette in this guide.
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