Note: I found these notes that I prepared for junior league coaches in this area a few years back. I thought they might come in handy for other coaches.

Technique, Footwork and Reaction Drills
SMWC Practice Drills

Bruce Gabrielson
Head Coach - Southern Maryland Wrestling club
Spring 1993 (1990 Notes)

Knee Grab

This drill works with all age groups.

Two wrestlers face each other standing with their normal stance. Their hands should be down near their knees and extended. The object is to use your hands to block your opponent to the outside while at the same time try to grab your opponent's knee. Don't let the wrestlers simply knee tap or slap but make them attempt to grab.

This drill is also physically demanding if performed correctly. I sometimes make the drill a contest with those making the most grabs working their way to the "finals". Winners go against each other (loosers also continue with loosers) until only two to three pairs are left. Those who loose out sit out the last round and ref. the winners. Size and weight of opponents don't effect the drill much.

The drill is usually run in two to three periods of 20 seconds each with a 10-15 second break. I continue the drill several rounds.


This is a good upper body drill for all ages groups. We use it extensively in Greco-Roman practice, but it also has some benefits for other wrestling styles.

Two opponents face each other standing. On the whistle, the object is to get either a body lock or get behind your opponent while remaining in a standing position. Useful moves are duck- unders, arm-drags to the body lock, or any wristlock series. If we are practicing Greco-Roman, I'll also allow head locks. Try to avoid this move if other styles are being practiced.

Your arms get tired during this drill. I generally go three 30 second periods before changing partners. About 6 periods is enough for most wrestlers.

The Hopper

This is strictly a balance drill for all age groups.

The wrestler holds his partners foot at waist level and on the whistle, moves the foot around. Try to avoid lifting the foot above chest level, but use a lot of pushing and pulling. The object is to make your opponent continually re-adjust for balance without falling.

Generally two to three 15 second periods are useful before wrestlers want to move to something else.


This drill is used best with small kids age wrestlers to develop both footwork and balance.

Two wrestlers hold hands. The object is to knock your opponent off balance using only your feet. Pulling, pushing or lifting with the hands is allowed.

The drill is usually run in two 20 second periods with a ten second break in between. After two periods the wrestlers change to a new partner close to their weight.

Shoot the Tube

We call this shooting the tube, but there are other names for it. It is an all-age technique drill.

One wrestler stands with his feet slightly apart. His opponent shoots through his legs, turns around, and shoots a single to the outside, slightly missing the leg. Again in front, the wrestler shoots through the legs again, and then returns by shooting the opposite leg.

The drill is usually run in two to three 20 second periods with a ten second break in between.

Warm-up Running

While not exactly a drill, we run around the mat during our warm-ups using several different footwork positions. While facing out or in, we might go both directions sideways without crossing our feet. We also run or jog using high steps or short shuffles.

Shoot the Wall

We have been using this drill with all age groups since the early 1980s on a regular basis. It is primarily intended to create hip rotation and force keeping your head up and back straight on single and double leg takedowns.

Have everyone line up and spread out along the walls of your room. On command, start with a chatter step (like in football) facing the wall. When the whistle is blown, shoot into the wall and then move your chest from lower to higher along the wall face. Following this motion, move back a couple of feet, continue the chatter, and waite for the next whistle.

The first attack consists of your head facing to the left side and your right knee down. The left knee is up and facing slightly outward from the wall. The positions are switched on each shot.

This drill lasts until about 8-10 shots are completed followed by a 15 sec break and then a second series of about 6 shots.

Shadow Wrestling

This drill is something I picked up during one of my many coaching assignments. It consists of completing a series takedown moves against an imaginary opponent. It works best with high school and above age groups, and is a technique developer.

Have your wrestlers line up in single file at one corner of the room. Select about six different takedowns, and then have your team members complete each takedown at least four times as the line zig-zags back and forth in single file accross your room. You need to watch to make sure corners aren't cut, wrestlers don't run into each other, and fewer moves than requested are performed.

When the first wrestler reaches the room end, have him or her go to the end of the first line. Two times through the line should be enough.

A variation of this drill can be used with a single wrestler attacking his shadow on a room wall.