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Mixed Martial Arts: The Wrestling Spin Drill and Fitness

Updated on February 5, 2016

Spin Drill Basics

Referee Position

The wrestler on bottom is in referee position, which is most commonly used in the beginning of the 2nd and 3rd periods.
The wrestler on bottom is in referee position, which is most commonly used in the beginning of the 2nd and 3rd periods.

Many of us have seen or heard MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) on television or online somewhere; and many of you such as myself may have seen how much work and dedication it takes to perform at a level as high as those fit athletes. Many of these techniques and skills are trained for when preparing for MMA competition; with that in mind, these fighters train numerous times a day month after month to prepare just for one fight. With the popularity of the sport rising, more of these skills and techniques are being taught by professional instructors and coaches in more gyms, training facilities, and fitness centers around the world. With this rapid growth in MMA, more and more everyday citizens are training in these techniques for fitness and health. All these separate techniques come from a variety of different martial art and combat styles, and play a major part in both strength and exercise.


When looking into these different combat styles and techniques, there is certain that there are two major components of MMA. These two components are known as the “striking” and “ground game.” In this article, we will be looking into the techniques of the ground game and how it can apply to your workout schedule or if you are looking into mixing things up.


The ideal use of the ground game in most cases is to gain the advantage with stamina and energy, as the ground fighter will drag and smoother their opponent; draining their energy to either open up a submission, finish the fight ground n' pound (strikes thrown with punches and elbows), or grinding out a decision victory. With this being a goal within the game play of a ground fighter, there are different styles that all contribute something to the ground game series as well as key exercise techniques that can straighten or develop your core muscles, as well as developing more strength in the hips. One grappling style that is very popular in the sport is wrestling (collegiate wrestling) and will be the main topic of this article.

Wrestling is one of the oldest and respected worldly known sports around, and is a key to a lot of successful victories in MMA. I myself grew up on wrestling from junior high school to my sophomore year of college and owe a lot of my health habits and exercises that I learned over the years through the sport.

One of the main attributes that wrestlers need to develop in order to compete at a high level such as the college division, Olympics, or MMA is to have a very high conditioning rate. This adds to what I mentioned earlier regarding how wrestlers strain the energy out of their opponents, and which also helped me dearly in many situations on the mat and becoming a junior college national qualifier. With conditioning, a wrestler is looking to have more control of there energy and also increase the volume of their energy so that they can last more than the necessary amount of rounds; as well as attempting to keep the same pace throughout the entire match. One of the drills wrestlers use to help with their conditioning exercises, is a drill most coaches call “the spin drill.” This drill is primarily used in the warm up portion within practices and wrestler's workouts and will provide a good deal of exercise for your leg muscles. This drill will involve a training partner as most wrestling drills usually do. Your training partner will start in referee position (which means on their hands and knees facing the referee) and will stay set with a strong base. You will then place your chest on the upper middle part of your training partner's back, with your knees not touching the ground. You will begin to rotate in a circle around your teammate, clockwise then counter-clockwise after each lap you complete. Now you want to keep a quick and constant speed as well as paying attention to your technique throughout the drill. Your training partner will also be getting a workout as they will need to keep their strong base throughout the drill. I recommend doing 3 reps in rotation, with each rep being between 1-3 minutes with this drill being used as a warm up. This is drill is very simple but works amazing with developing those high conditioning levels as well as having you practice your technique in scoring takedowns when you have an opponent in this position. With multiple drills that contribute to the conditioning of wrestling, the spin drill is certainly a basic one that I recommend all grapplers should learn.

Wrestling is just one of many combat forms that contribute to not only the sport of MMA, but to health and fitness as well. I recommend trying the spin drill out a couple of times by adding the drill into your warm ups, so that you can adjust your balance and technique throughout the drill. Just like my coach always said as did many others, “practice only makes perfect.”




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