Wrestling is one of the most popular sports in high schools nationwide, but a common problem for many coaches is keeping the practices informative, fun and motivational. A trend that is picking up speed across many high schools is to motivate wrestlers by teaching skills and techniques through games rather than repetitive drills. Below are some games to try out at your next high school wrestling practice.

  1. King of the Mat. Many high school wrestlers and beyond can learn about physical endurance and tenacity when playing this game. To begin, pair up the 2 lightest wrestlers on the team in ‘face off’ position in the middle of the mat. The opponents begin a match normally and wrestle until one of them scores a takedown. The winner then faces the next person on the team by weight. This cycle continues through the entire team, repeating from the bottom once the heaviest wrestlers are taken down.
  2. “SUMO” Style. Looking for a great game to teach young wrestlers balance and coordination? Look no further with sumo wrestling. Two wrestlers of equal weight try to force their opponent outside of an 8 foot circle. The rules say that you can’t attack the legs of the other wrestler with your hands, so this forces the players to perfect side-stepping and to use an opponent’s forward momentum against them.
  3. Mat Combat. This is always a entertaining game that promotes building your team’s unity. First, pick 2 wrestlers and have them rotate selecting members for their team from the group. Next, after teams are selected, have them line up against opposite sides of the wrestling mat and stand on their knees. Get ready to blow the whistle and have all of the wrestlers move toward the center of the mat on their knees and attempt to the wrestlers from the opposing team. The game continues until one team is completely out. This drill also teaches wrestlers to fight as hard as they can from being pinned and improves their chances of breaking free from a difficult hold in a real match.

Remember, one of the most important aspects of coaching wrestling is to keep your players motivated. Dan Gable, National wrestling and coaching icon says that motivation is the “energy source that sustains successful wrestling programs.” By providing fun, entertaining games that also provide tests to a wrestler’s skills will help athletes improve their game and also keep them motivated.