In effort to keep you abreast of what’s going on at the 2017 Senior Greco-Roman World Team Camp, held this week and next at the Olympic Training Center, who better to do so than actual, living breathing World Team members? We’re gathering insights from multiple athletes during the camp, but batting leadoff is the Captain of the US Seniors, Robby Smith (130 kg, NYAC). Smith, 30, is preparing for his fourth World Championships where he has twice finished fifth (2013, 2015) in addition to becoming an Olympian last year.
Being that this is not Smith’s first rodeo, he is able to draw comparisons to past World Team camps while providing a full perspective on the current one. Details such as practice duration, scheduling, recovery, and curriculum are all included and matter a whole lot for him and the others. The particulars also shed a light on just what it is the top-level wrestlers for Team USA are going through as they gear up to leave for Paris in a couple of weeks’ time. So just in case you were wondering what it’s like to train for the most prestigious event on the calendar, Smith is someone you want to hear about it from.
2017 US Senior Greco-Roman Camp Report — Robby Smith, 130 kg
5PM: How does this camp differ from other World Team camps you’ve been a part of, if it does as all?
Robby Smith: You know what, they’re sticking to the same plan. It is focused a lot on the World Team member again. The only difference is really the scheduling of it. It is two-one-two-one-two-one (number of practice sessions per day — Ed.), and that’s really nice because we’re getting those full days of breaks — just a lift in the morning, a quick lift, in and out, and then we have the whole day to recover the body. Ice, cold tub, contrast, massage, all of that stuff happens on those days and your body has a chance to recover for the next grinder that we have, and we’re grinding it out hard here.
It’s a lot of work, a lot of volume. We’re only in there max an hour and a half, most of them have been an hour and fifteen. But that whole hour and a half or hour and fifteen is work from the time that we break when the coaches tell us what we’re doing until the last whistle blows. Everybody is responding well. No one is having a really hard time. Anyone who has an injury is taking care of it and being smart about it, and the guys who are grinding through it are grinding through it well. So the camp is not that much different from the other ones we have done, but so far so good.
5PM: One of the items talked about ahead of this camp was the intensity. Has the level of intensity been as high as advertised?
RS: Yes, very high. Especially for the World Team guys. The days that the World Team guys are having two practices, the other guys are kind of standing on the side because the World Team guys have the priority on mat. But when they’re needed, they are ready to go. A lot of the times when a World Team member is wrestling, we’re wrestling two to three guys. They’re rotating in on you and it’s tough, man. When you’re done, you are done. You want to go to bed. You want to get your recovery in, go straight to the dining hall, eat, and go to bed (laughs). That is literally what it is.
But it has been a grinder. It goes hard. You don’t want anything else but to eat, sleep, wrestle, and that’s it. There is no time for extracurricular activities, and that’s what they want. They don’t want us out and about doing dumb things. They want us taking care of our bodies and you have to. We’re professionals and we go out there, take care of the body, and get the job done at the same time. It is going well, it is very intense, and we’ll be ready for Paris. Everyone is going to be ready and we’re all going to be on top of our game.
5PM: How much of a role does technique play in the camp? I’m guessing that a lot of the more nuanced technical approaches you might have worked on already took place prior to this camp, but is technical instruction and drilling involved at all?
RS: So Monday and Friday are our two hardest days. Both practices are full live. Tuesday is a lift, a pretty intense lift and then the afternoon off. Wednesday is technique and an open practice. But the open practice is open technique — you have to be there, you cannot skip. You’re working on the stuff you tried Monday or the week before, or what the coaches are seeing. Wednesday afternoon is a live practice. Thursday morning is a lift. Friday morning is live with a group. Friday afternoon is matches and then you have Saturday, which is conditioning.
So the only real technique is that Wednesday morning, but it’s good because it gives your body a little bit of a break before Wednesday afternoon and Friday’s live matches, plus you can work on some good stuff. A lot of the guys have been working on par terre or positioning. So yeah, technique is still involved, but only during that Wednesday morning practice. It might only be once a week that we’re doing it, but I think it’s plenty for what we need right now.
5PM: This is a process that started a couple of months ago with the base training camp in Eagle Creek. Then it was Georgia and the camp in Hungary, so on and so forth. How did all of this prepare you for this camp, especially the one in Hungary, which was supposed to be extraordinarily difficult?
RS: We laid a great base in the months leading up to this. A lot of base training. Let’s go all the way back to Trials. A lot of us went home, had one day, and then went straight to Brazil for Pan Ams. For us, we came home from that, had five days, and then went straight to Eagle Creek for our base camp. We were doing three-a-days for two weeks, but not wrestling, it was sports-specific conditioning. That was a great base and then we were off a week before going to Georgia.
Next we were in Hungary and we gained that wrestling conditioning back. Because you can do as much conditioning as you want outside of wrestling, but there is nothing like being on a mat and actually wrestling to get your lungs back. That Hungarian camp, it was a grinder. We had four or five days off coming back from that and started right back up with that same type of intensity we had in Hungary leading up to this camp. We haven’t settled down. It wasn’t like, Alright, let’s recover and come down. No, we just kept going (laughs). Now we’re into our last real hard push right before we have to leave and we’re right there. We’re just teetering on the edge and I think we’ll be fine and ready to roll when it’s time to compete. I’m happy with what’s going on and we’re just moving forward.
5PM: Saturday is a conditioning day and Sunday you have off. Having just one day off before the start of the second week I’m guessing you’re looking forward to, because then that recharges you for the second phase of the camp.
Robby Smith: Having that one day off? That means the world (laughs). What I am going to do, is I’m taking Sunday and just relaxing, you know? I’m not going to be doing much but watching some Shark Week and hanging out. And hopefully, my body will be recovered, refreshed, and ready to roll Monday because Monday is another grinder. That day off is crucial not just to your physical, but your mental, too. Because your mentality has to be there and if your mentality isn’t there, it’s tough.
Stay tuned next week for the second installment of Robby Smith’s US Greco-Roman World Team Camp Report.