Russian Wrestling System vs U.S.

vlady's picture

2010 was again a successful year for Russian wrestlers. They dominated in all big international competitions. Many people in the international wrestling community (particularly in the U.S.) are trying to figure out the success of the Russian Wrestling System. My opinion of why Russia dominates is that the system is built on deep wrestling traditions with tremendous financial and political support.

Here is a comparison of the Russian Wrestling System to the U.S. The Russian Wrestling System is built to develop World and Olympic champions. This is what kids want to be when they start wrestling. In Russia, most kids start at age 10-12 yrs. and have 2-4 tournaments per year. Kids do not usually cut weight. At cadette and junior age (14-16), athletes wrestle 4-8 tournaments per year and cut on average 4-8 lbs. a couple times per year. The majority of wrestlers do not burn out mentally or wear out physically when they reach senior level. In Russia, the average wrestling practices runs for 1 & 1/2 hrs. At the kids level, the system focuses to develop wrestling skills (flexibility, agility, coordination, etc.) and basic technique. Most of the practice time is spent playing and drilling. Live wrestling runs for about 5-10 min. per practice. At cadette and junior level, athletes develop more complicated technique and spend a lot of time in different wrestling situations and positions. They still do not spend a lot of time live wrestling. At the senior level, wrestlers polish their technique and tactic and focus on physical conditions. At all age levels, practices are short but high intensity.

In the U.S., a kid's goal is to be a State champion. They start wrestling at age 5-7 yrs. and wrestling 10-15 tournaments per 4-6 months season. At age 10-13, almost all wrestlers in U.S. cut weight. I saw a 12 yr. old who cut 14 lbs. for a State tournament to wrestle in the 74 lb. category!! Also, I saw a 15 yr. old who cut 20 lbs. to wrestle at Nationals in the 95 lb. category. Parents of both wrestlers encouraged and pushed their sons to do this!! In the U.S., at all ages, wrestling practice focuses to build condition. The duration of practice is usually 2 hr. or more and live wrestling is a big part of the practice. Kids are bored and lazy to learn technique. Parents and coaches are not patient and want immediate results. By college age, half of wrestlers burn out. Only a small percentage still want to wrestle after college.

In Russia, big bonuses and incentives are good motivation to wrestle. Usually all of the best wrestlers are provided with career opportunities by government or businesses. While athletes wrestle or they finish their sport career they know they will have a good job. This is very important for the Russian Wrestling System.

In U.S., wrestlers don't have opportunities like this. Only a few can afford to wrestle 10-15 yrs. at the senior level. The U.S. can beat Russia in wrestling some years. But to dominate the World constantly, the U.S. has to create a wrestling system that is better or at least competitive to the Russian Wrestling System.