Wrestling Lays a Foundation for Other Sports
by Ben Peterson w/Ethan Bosch
Each fall, many young athletes debate whether or not to go out for wrestling.
Football and soccer players have had a full fall season of practices and
games. Some are excited about their prospects for the next season in that
sport, so they think that lifting specifically for that sport would help them the
most. Others are anticipating a spring sport, like baseball. If either of these
is your case, let me urge you to consider the following benefits of wrestling
for your other sport(s):
1) Wrestling is built on position. A good stance is vital to most any sports
activity. Football’s “hit” position and a baseball player’s stance are both
similar to a good wrestling stance. Quality training for wrestling will include
repeated drilling of a good stance, moving in that stance, and moving quickly
from that stance. Wrestling keeps a person alert to his own body position and
balance, as well as that of others he comes into contact with. These skills
apply well in football and in soccer, as players fight for position. (Anyone who
has played soccer knows that it’s a contact sport.) Wrestling will help develop
those contact positioning skills.
Many have found that these several team sports (like football, soccer, and
baseball) emphasize the positioning of all the players on the field, with little
training for their individual body skills. Wrestling training majors on these
skills. When an athlete steps on the field already having body position,
balance, and awareness, he increases his effectiveness for his team and
increases his chances to be selected by coaches to play.
2) Wrestling teaches good work habits. It is no secret that wrestling is a
sport that demands a lot of work. Regularly I hear wrestlers and nonwrestlers
comment on how wrestling training exceeds that of every other
sport. Anyone involved in wrestling training for any length of time will work
extensively on repeated drills, strength improvement, conditioning, and
mental toughness. Wrestling requires a lot of work – most coaches demand
it, and success relies on it. Wrestling work habits have helped many of us in
the classroom, in the home, in the workplace, and in other sports. To quote
my Olympic teammate and wrestling legend, Dan Gable: “Once you have
wrestled, everything else in life is easy.”
3) Core strength and conditioning are basic to wrestling. By “core strength,” I
am referring to the strength of the large muscle groups of the hips, thighs,
and lower torso. Core conditioning is referring to the lungs and heart.
Wrestling is constantly working on the strength, flexibility and balancing of
the hips. Muscle power from lifting dead weights is good. But lifting an
opponent that is fighting back is much more valuable to the dynamics of
most sport activity, especially football. Core strength is important in hitting a
baseball, too (all wrestlers know the maxim that “power comes from the
hips”). And anyone who has wrestled very long knows his lung and heart
conditioning improves greatly, which is especially valuable in soccer.
4) Learn personal confidence by wrestling. Many of us have to fight through
major amounts of fear and timidness. When you accept the challenge to
wrestle, you take great strides to overcome those fears. This was one of
wrestling’s major benefits to me. I was very shy and sought to hide my
performance and my limitations in a team. After wrestling for three years, I
learned to take responsibility for my performance like never before. Only
then did I become a real asset to my high school football team. My
confidence and determination soared.
As the coach of a small college (Maranatha Baptist Bible College, of
Watertown, Wisconsin) for 27 _ seasons, I had wrestlers playing other sports
every year. Several times I watched them go out for football when they had
never played it before. Several of them became starters, and often they
earned conference honors. My upper weights were linemen and linebackers,
while the lightweights have been safeties. They quickly adjust to football, and
are complimented by coach Terry Price because they know how to keep
strong position, they work hard, they have good core strength, condition and
My son Andy enjoyed playing for Coach Price, whose three sons all wrestled.
Today, Andy is 24 and is seeking to play football on a professional level.
Because of his limited size, he has converted from a college linebacker to
safety in the National Indoor Football League. He’s been playing two years
with the St.Louis River City Rage. I tell him he is still wrestling – only now it
is at a full sprint, and often leaping in the air. He will tell you that his high
school and college wrestling have been invaluable to him in all his football.
We regularly talk about the ability God has given him and how to maximize
it. Andy and I do not think he would have come this far in football, nor could
he fully reach his God-given potential, without wrestling. He is still seeking to
live out Ecclesiastes 9:10: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your
might: for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave
where you are going.” Wrestling has been a vital part of Andy’s football
What are your goals in life? Are you doing everything you can do to fulfill
your potential? Wrestling can help! I urge you to take on the wrestling
challenge, and to convince others to do the same. To reach your full
potential, you will need to wrestle. Wrestling will help you excel in a
thousand other things!