Wrestling Stance – From Static to Dynamic

By: Steve Mendicino PT from Columbus Orthopedic Institute


A wrestling stance is not just the position that one assumes at the beginning of each match or when posing for individual pictures at the beginning of each year.  Rather, it is a dynamic position that should be maintained at nearly all times when wrestling.  A proper stance is the most fundamental wrestling skill, and the most important as well.

There are several aspects of a good wrestling stance, but the three most important are to keep your head up, elbows in and butt down.  Additionally, keep your hands down to protect your legs, shoulders shrugged to guard against a front headlock and low back rounded (as if tucking your butt under you rather than keeping your low back arched like a linebacker’s stance) in order to keep your power (hips) under you instead of behind you.  Once one has assumed a good stance, the next challenge is to maintain that stance while circling about your opponent, changing levels and hand fighting.

Finally, maintaining your stance when attacking, controlling, and defending against your opponent will allow you to maintain good position.  Maintaining good position is ultimately one’s ability to maintain one’s stance in any and nearly every position.  The primary alteration is one’s back position when pinning, throwing, leg riding and attacking/controlling his opponent’s legs from the neutral position, in which case one’s back should be arched (linebacker’s stance) rather than rounded.

Allow me to share some examples of situations in which good position (stance) needs to be maintained:

Leg attacks:  double leg, head inside and head outside single leg, high crotch, duck under, fireman’s carry

Head inside single with the leg in the air

Throws / lifts

Defending leg attacks

Tight waist breakdown, tilts, bar arms, spiral ½, claw

Down position, stand up and cut-off, defending legs and crab ride

In contrast, it is when one loses one’s position that one’s success rate decreases while the opportunity for the opponent to score increases.  It is for this reason that it is often beneficial to begin instructing a move (skill/technique) from the control position so that the wrestler first understands the position the he is trying to attain before he attempts to manipulate his way into the desired position.  For example, when instructing a wrestler to perform a double leg takedown, it is advantageous to begin by placing the offensive wrestler on one knee grabbing both legs.  Position him there in a good stance:  his hips under him (back arched in this situation), head up, and elbows in (while pulling down upon the legs).  From this power position, the “finish” of the takedown is then instructed.  Now that the wrestler understands the position that he is expected to assume and the ultimate outcome, he should have a better understanding of what he needs to do to get to that postition from the neutral position.  Now it is time to instruct him in the penetration step to get into the double leg position from which we first began.  Set ups are the final component to be taught.  The individual components are then put together in the appropriate order to perform the skill from set up to finish.  It must then be performed hundreds of times before one is able to perform the skill at a high level.

And remember… as a wise man once said:  “Practice does not make perfect.  Practice makes permanent.  Only perfect practice makes perfect.”