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John Gaglione's Off Season Wrestling Training # 1


Teaching Drills for Improving the BIG THREE: Part 1 Squat Drills


The sport of powerlifting is comprised of three main movements: The bench, the squat and the deadlift. The reason these exercises are used in competition because between the three movements you are literally working every single muscle in your body. For that reason powerlifting is a great way to build and measure strength.

Unfortunately often times these movements can be tough to learn and when performed improperly they can cause injury as with any improper exercise. By learning these movements properly in the beginning of an off season training program you can reap all of the benefits of these exercises without any chance of getting hurt! Over the next few weeks I will outline several different drills and training methods you can utilize in your off season training routine to help get you super strong for next season.


The squat is one of the greatest exercises an athlete can perform to help improve absolute strength and performance. Some forms of squatting should be in everyone’s strength training routine. This week we will discuss how we can use different exercises to improve squat technique.  If you want to have powerful sprawls and explosive takedowns you need to have a good foundation of leg strength. Squats will build up the legs better than any other exercise I know.


It is important to note that some people may need additional exercises to improve hip mobility and thoracic spine (upper back) extension to improve their squat technique as well. When dealing with the athletic population this usually is not the case.

Sometimes when athletes perform the squat they don’t have the motor control to pull themselves down correctly and they will end up with an anterior weight shift. The anterior weight shift will put the athlete on their toes and they will end up with a poor squat pattern.


Wall Squats


The Wall Squat will help combat this anterior weight shift problem very nicely. If an athlete has a problem with their knees shifting too far forward in a squat the wall squat is the best exercise to correct this.



The athlete will use the wall as a guide to help them squat more efficiently. The athlete will set up with the feet nearly touching the wall. The distance will vary depending on the individual, but in general should be an inch or less away. The athlete will then start to sit back and then squat down while keeping their chest out as they squat facing the wall.

If the athlete rounds their back their face will smash into the wall. This cue works very nicely because in most people don’t won’t to hit their face on the wall!

If the athlete’s knees come too far forward the athlete will bang their knees into the wall. Again this is a great self check since the athlete will not be able to perform a proper squat to optimal depth if they make the mistake of letting their knees drift too far forward.


When proper squat is performed they will be able to achieve a desirable depth without a problem. The only thing the coach needs to watch for is the extreme posterior pelvic tilt(where the low back rounds at the very bottom position).  This means the athlete is squatting too low for the hip mobility that they currently have or it could be a technical flaw. Also make sure the athletes’ feet are flat on the ground and they do not roll to the outsides of their feet. We call this “frogging” the feet (looks like a frog) and this defeats the purpose of the drill. Other than that this drill is nearly fool proof. 

Squat with RNT


Many athletes and people in general will come to you and tell you they get knee pain when perform squats. Often times if they have performed squat in the past they have used improper form.  Many times the same people who complain of knee pain will squat with the knees coming inward while squatting.



This causes a lot of stress on the knee and is a very unsafe squatting pattern. Sometimes this is caused by lack of glute activation while squatting and other times the athlete simply needs to be cued to keep their knees out.


We can use an Elite Fitness band or other tubing to actually force the athlete into the poor pattern. This is what strength coach and physical therapist Gray cook calls reactive neuromuscular training (RNT). The athlete will perform a squat with the band above their knees. The athlete is FORCED to keep the knees out in order to perform the squat. 

Squats with bands around the knees will activate muscles in the hip and prevent valgus collapse (knees caving in).This will ensure proper alignment of the joint as well as provide glute activation for the movement. If you don’t have access to short bands you can double up a regular size band and get a similar effect. If you do not have any bands available you can provide manual resistance with your hands.


You simply push the athlete’s knees inward and should instruct your athlete to push your hands apart as they squat. Provide just enough resistance for them to get in good position. The great thing about this drill is you can continue to load the squat and still use the band to reinforce good technique is so desired.


I would also recommend combing this method with a box. Box squatting really teaches the lifter to sit back. This will help the lifter from coming up on their toes and will keep the weight more toward the back of the foot on the heels.



You can even combine both of these drills together to create an even more effective and faster teaching tool for all athletes. Start working these drills in your routine so you can master your squat technique and get super strong legs for the upcoming season!


Educate, Motivate, Dominate
Coach Gaglione

 If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at gaglionestrength@gmail.com or check out my website www.gaglionestrength.com

To take your wrestling to the next level and ensure this coming wrestling season is your best one ever go to GaglioneStrength.com and e-mail Coach Gaglione for more information on wrestling training.

 Coach John Gaglione is a Sport Performance Specialist out of Long Island New York. He is a certified "Underground" Strength coach who specializes in training combat athletes. John’s work has been featured in Elite Fitness Systems, Testosterone Nation , One Result & local wrestling site Long Island Wrestling Association. If you would like to learn more about John you can reach him at www.gaglionestrength.com or e-mail him at gaglionestrength@gmail.com.