Five Point Move is proud to host US Greco Roman National Team Head Coach Matt Lindland every week for “Coach Lindland’s Report.” For fans and wrestlers looking for insights regarding the US Greco National Team, we ask Coach Lindland some questions to get his take on training and upcoming competitions. If you have any questions you’d like us to ask going forward let us know via Facebook, Twitter, or through our Contact page.
This week, we talk to Coach Lindland as the camp at the CYC in Concord, California is winding down. It had been a pretty eventful week. The camp represented kind of an unofficial starting point for the Olympians to begin preparing as a unit heading into the summer. Of course, the Junior Greco World Duals also took place out there, which saw Randon Miranda, Peyton Omania, Jamal DeArmond, G’Angelo Hancock and others put on strong performances. We kick it off though talking about the University Greco Duals, a new event which happened over the weekend while the Coach was in Concord. Oh – and the famous “Seven Basic Skills” are referenced as well at some point, but with an interesting twist. Here we go…
5PM: Despite being in Concord and not in attendance, what was your takeaway from the inaugural University Greco Duals?
Coach Matt Lindland: I think it’s a great concept. I’m super-excited that we have five teams that are supporting Greco. It’s unfortunate we didn’t have more teams that were supporting it. You had Navy there, American, George Mason, the combo team of VMI and William & Lee, and Columbia. I mean, it was definitely disappointing that there weren’t more. What, freestyle was the day before and the rest of the teams didn’t stick around?
5PM: Apparently not only did 19 other teams neglect to send wrestlers out for Greco on Sunday, but I believe a few of them asked the event organizers if they could come back the next day and hold additional freestyle duals.
ML: They asked the event organizers to hold more freestyle duals?
5PM: That’s my understanding.
ML: It just tells you that there are coaches who don’t understand wrestling. It’s unfortunate. Because you know, I don’t know any Greco coaches in this country who don’t know freestyle. Or for that matter, folkstyle. If they wrestled Greco they understand all styles. But that’s not the same case with guys who just wrestle freestyle or folkstyle. Probably more so folkstyle because I would think most guys wrestle freestyle. But like Teague (Moore) said, when he wrestled it’s just what you did. You showed up at the tournament, if they had Greco, you wrestled Greco. Maybe it was the day before, maybe it was a day later. But if you showed up for a tournament, you wrestled both styles. You wanted to get the matches in. Especially if you’re asking for more matches, that tells me you didn’t have a very good day the first day, so you want more competition so the athlete can get better. But it’s unfortunate that they don’t see the value in wrestling Greco.
5PM: Teague made a point how on the USA Wrestling calendar there is only one event currently for the University age group, which is obviously the nationals.
ML: He’s absolutely correct. It would be nice if we had the U23’s like the Europeans do. That would fit in a lot more to the college-aged athletes. But we do have the Junior events, although those are typically your freshmen and sophomores.
But yeah, I think it’s a great concept and I am pleased that Teague got out in front of it and promoted this event with the help of guys like Joe Russell, some of the guys from Navy, and I know that Jay Antonelli did a seminar. I hope it continues and grows and we’ll see as many Greco teams as we did freestyle teams. But we have to have coaches be a little more open-minded and more willing to take some risks. I mean, what have you got to lose? There is nothing to lose, but that’s just the mentality of these folkstyle coaches. They get their validation off of how they do in collegiate tournaments, whether they win state titles or All-American statuses at the NCAA’s. But as soon as a Greco guy beats them, they’re done (laughs). I’ve seen that over and over. Guys will come out and wrestle Greco, and they’ll get beat. I’ve seen All-Americans get beat by high school kids and that’s a true story. My wife and I were sitting in the stands watching the Schultz tournament and I watched a two-time All-American get beat by a high school kid. My wife goes, “That’s guy’s done, he’s done wrestling Greco.” (Laughs)
And she was right. I got a call three weeks later saying, “I’m done wrestling Greco.” It’s unfortunate though. They’re different sports, for sure. But I think you can learn a lot from wrestling Greco that would carry over and help you in folkstyle. How many times do you see the college coach or the high school coach saying “Stay out of the ties! Stay out of the ties, he likes to throw!” And then come late in the season they’re like “You’ve got to throw him to win!” (Laughs) It’s so true, though. You see that over and over, where it’s stay out of the tie, stay out of the tie, and then you’re losing by four and the only way you can win is to throw a guy to his back. Now they are yelling, “Come on! Get the throw, throw him to his back!” Well you’ve never trained that. You told him to stay out of the ties all season and now you’re telling him to throw a guy? Forget it. He doesn’t have that ability. He hasn’t developed those skills.
5PM: Well that’s interesting you say that because MarcAntoni interviewed Sahid Kargbo, who was a Junior World Team member a few years ago, and he said essentially the same exact thing, how everyone knows how to hit a single-leg, a high-crotch, and a double, but not everyone knows how to throw a guy when they are down by five and need it.
ML: Right. And when we’re talking about this same All-American who lost to a high school kid. When he was training with us, he lacked at least two of the seven basic skills. You know what the seven basic skills are, right?
ML: Stance, motion, level change, penetration, elevation and a back step and a back arch. Those are two basic skills that are not being taught to our athletes. And possibly they don’t need it in folkstyle. Maybe they don’t need a back step and a back arch to be successful. I don’t know. I wasn’t trained that way, so I was taught all seven basic skills when I learned how to wrestle.
5PM: You started at a wrestling school that had an international flavor.
Coach Matt Lindland: That’s true. And I falsely assumed everybody learned the basic skills (laughs). There’s only seven of them, Tim. It’s not like he had to learn 50 basic skills, he had to learn seven. And I would argue that there’s an eighth basic skill and maybe there’s more. I’m always looking to see if someone can come up with another basic skill, but I would argue that there’s an eighth. At least.
5PM: What do you think the eighth is?
ML: I think it’s a hip-heist.
ML: Yeah, I think it’s a hip-heist. You saw Jesse hit that…
5PM: When you said it, that was the first thing that popped into my head.
ML: I think it’s a basic skill. He hit that against the Swede. He called it a “switch”, but honestly, he just turned into him and hip-heisted. I do think that is a skill that should be included with the other seven. I teach it and claim it to be the eighth basic skill. The missing skill (laughs). But maybe there’s more. I’m always looking for more. Maybe one of the readers out there can come up with a ninth or tenth skill and let me know. I think ten would be a good number. I don’t think you need more than ten. I haven’t come up with either nine or ten, so.
5PM: Weren’t the seven basic skills first developed back in the 70’s and then pushed in the 80’s? Something like that?
ML: I would say at least the 80’s. I don’t know because I didn’t wrestle in the 70’s and didn’t wrestle till the mid-80’s. 1985 was my first exposure to wrestling. So I couldn’t tell you when they were started but they were at least going on in the 80’s when I began wrestling.
5PM: No, it’s just I mean, times change and you have to amend things.
ML: Oh, you have to amend and adapt and evolve all the time. I think we’re talking about that all the time with Greco, adapting and evolving. Just changing. Doing the same stuff is going to continue to get you the same result. So we’ve got to find new ways to be innovative.
5PM: What did you think of your Juniors this past Saturday and Sunday?
ML: I got to tell you, it was a lot, a lot of fun. This event is really first-class that Marc Halvorson and the CYC host out here. They got three quality international teams. We had Junior and Cadet World medalists here who were competing in this tournament. Guys who are still Cadets or turned Juniors. Or were Cadets last year and were World medalists. They are still training, they have one more training session tomorrow (Thursday). The beautiful thing about it is one of the teams came in early and trained with the CYC athletes the week before the tournament and then stuck around for the competition, did one day of training, and then left because they are going back for the Nordic Championships. Then the other two teams, Hungary and the Scandinavian team, stuck around for training this week. They came in for the competition and have stayed for the second week of training. It’s got a great feel to it because training isn’t until 5:30 in the afternoon. The athletes get to go hang out in the city all day, spend time going to Alcatraz, visit San Francisco seeing the sights, and then they come back for some great training.
And for our Junior athletes, what a great opportunity to work out with their quality European partners. You can’t get this kind of training unless you travel overseas. The European athletes do things differently. They have a different feel, a different style, just the flavor of the way they wrestle is completely different from the way we wrestle here because of the background. Pretty much all of our American athletes have folkstyle as their foundation. That’s where we get them from. We get them from folkstyle and convert them into Greco guys. The European athletes, they don’t know what folkstyle is and so they wrestle differently. They keep their hips in closer, they stay in contact more, they don’t push away and try to separate all the time. We struggle with trying to teach our athletes these things because they’re so much more comfortable at space. They are less comfortable when they are really close and in contact constantly. They feel the need to step away from the fight for a second just to take a breather or something. Because when you’re wrestling Greco, it’s a constant fight. There’s no breaks. You don’t get to push away and circle around. It’s contact, now.
5PM: Not to leave anyone out, but were there any individual performances that stood out to you?
ML: Well it was nice to see our three World Team members who were here all had really good performances. Randon Miranda, Jamal DeArmond, and Tracy Hancock all had really good performances. They had good matches and tough match-ups, too. I know DeArmond lost in the dual-meet portion and then he came back and beat that guy in the finals to win the individual title. I don’t think Randon lost in the duals. Neither did Tracy. But it was nice to see DeArmond make some adjustments and come back to win an individual title. The way they did it was, they did all the dual meets, like a round-robin dual-meet format. And then they seeded the tournament based on the dual meet results.
5PM: It seemed fun, like a fun event to go watch some wrestling.
ML: It was. Our Senior athletes stuck around and watched all of the competition. Everybody enjoyed it. I mean, we’re watching Junior and Cadet age-group athletes wrestling an international style of Greco. It’s a big difference and we talked about it this before. Watching two Americans wrestle Greco versus watching the Europeans wrestle Greco or even our American athletes wrestling Europeans, it’s a different sport almost. I would just call Fargo folkstyle without grabbing the legs. It is really that different the way they wrestle it. It’s unfortunate, too, because I think we have so many amazing athletes in this country.
5PM: Did you have any Juniors who may not have a lot of experience overseas express enthusiasm, pleasure, saying they want more of this?
Coach Matt Lindland: Absolutely. They all want more of this, they all want to go over to Sweden and Hungary and train with these guys and compete overseas. We’re inspiring these athletes to want to get overseas and compete at the international level.
5PM: It’s Wednesday going into Thursday. When are the Seniors breaking camp?
ML: We travel Friday morning, we go home. We have two workouts tomorrow. We have a morning mat workout and an afternoon lift.
5PM: Do they have the weekend off?
ML: They do, yeah. Friday is a travel day, they’re off Saturday and Sunday and then we get back after it on Monday to continue our base training until we leave for Azerbaijan.
5PM: Okay, that is exactly what I was going to ask you. Starting next week, you’re going to have everyone with you in Springs, right? So next week you’re going to continue with the base conditioning program and then it’s off to Baku?
ML: Yep, then it’s off to Baku, which will be focused on wrestling. We’ll go and spend the first week in Baku and then the second city we’re going to is Goygol. It seems like a quaint little town but it’s the second largest city in Azerbaijan. What’s it like 30,000 people or something?
5PM: (Looking it up on Google) Yeah, 37,200. You nailed it. Wow, these pictures make it look really nice. I know this is Eastern Europe, but this place looks like France pre-World War I or something. Are these screensavers or something? These pictures are amazing.
Coach Matt Lindland: Pretty nice, isn’t it? I just went to Google images, it’s all beautiful scenery. Maybe it’s the same spot, though.
5PM: Holy cow, this looks like paradise.
ML: It does, doesn’t it? I’ve seen one river that at least has a little ripple in it. I don’t know. Let me see if there is any whitewater rafting in Goygol.