Amateur wrestling has a number of physical and mental benefits, and has the ability to make any competitor better at their sport of choice – be that soccer, lacrosse, racquet sports, baseball, or any others.
Football players in particular stand to benefit from cross-training with the sport of wrestling. That is probably why so many famous coaches felt like wrestlers made amazing contributions to their rosters.
Here are a few of the key benefits that football players gain from practicing and competing in amateur wrestling:
- Speed and Quickness – In order to score points and win matches, wrestlers must develop foot speed, agility, and overall quickness to avoid being taken down or pinned by their opponent. This agility is priceless to football players in any position, and can help them perform better individually, as well as contribute to the success of their team.
- Strength and Explosiveness – Football players typically execute in short, controlled bursts. This is similar to wrestling, but in wrestling those bursts must be timed and executed with timing and precision based on the position of one’s opponent. In addition, wrestling requires tremendous focus on balance, which allows football players to develop a unique type of ‘functional strength’ that simply cannot be gained by completing drills.
- Stamina and Endurance – Wrestling training and competition is physically grueling and requires athletes to develop a tenacity that can help them stay in top form and stay injury free throughout the season.
- Mental Toughness and Discipline – Getting bested in a wrestling match is no fun – in addition to losing on the scoreboard, the defeated wrestler feels like they got their butt kicked. The ability to come back from these defeats, and to use them as ammunition to develop a better approach for the next match creates thoughtful, disciplined warriors.
The history books are filled with football greats that wrestled either before their football career, or as a coordinated part of developing well-rounded physical and mental skills. Here is just a partial list of great football competitors from the NFL who also stepped onto the mat and wrestled:
- Scott Peters, Guard, New York Giants
- Bob Pickens, Offensive Lineman, Chicago Bears
- Leo Wisniewski, Nose Tackle, Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts
Pennsylvania State Champ
- Ricky Williams, Running Back, Miami Dolphins
- Mike Pyle, Center, Chicago Bears
Iowa State Champ
- Jim Plunkett, Quarterback, Oakland Raiders
- Dave Porter, Tackle, Green Bay Packers
- Steve Wisniewski, Guard, Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders
California State Champ
- Tedy Bruschi
- Ray Lewis
- Warren Sapp
- Stephen Neal
2x NCAA Champ.