Preparing for Success at the FinalX

Dane recently coached Nick Gwiazdowski to success at the FinalX: Bethlehem, a qualifier for the upcoming World Wrestling Championships. Nick, a heavyweight, needed to beat Adam Coon head-to-head in order to qualify. 

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Going in to the FinalX: Bethlehem, the final qualifier for the upcoming World Championships for wrestling, I think both Nick and I were feeling some pressure. Nick needed to beat Adam Coon, who had previously beaten Kyle Snyder, an Olympic Champion. Coon is a big, strong wrestler who doesn’t make many mistakes, and there was a lot of chatter that Coon would handle Nick easily. Strangely, I felt more pressure to prepare Nick for this match than I had last year when Nick wrestled at the World Championships. I think that feeling came from the fact that Nick bought in much more this year, and valued me as a key part of his prep team.

I invested a lot of time watching Coon wrestle and I knew where I had to improve with Nick. His pulling strength needed some work, so we continued to improve his pull ups and power cleans (Nick actually PR’d his clean at 150 during his prep). I also knew that Nick had always been a strong, but not overly explosive squatter. I decided to install back and front squats at 140 with an unbroken tempo to force him to improve his speed in the movements.


All of that time assessing both Gwiz and Coon paid off, as Nick absolutely dominated the match from the jump. Coon really wasn’t able to make much of anything happen, and Nick got his ticket to World’s. This match was a huge testament to Nick’s buy-in and willingness to trust me and work for the result he wanted. Nick is still a relatively young wrestler who still seems to be getting used to the international style and how to use the strength gains he sees in the weight room transfer over to the mat. He now understand that I’m not just an Olympic weightlifting coach, but that I can analyze and understand a wrestler and effectively program for improvements in mat strength.

I believe that as Nick and I approach World’s this year, he’ll be so much more focused. Each of the prep programs I’ll write for him will be highly specified to the wrestlers he might face. That, combined with Nick’s understanding of how to have a good camp in preparation for a big tournament will lead to some great success in a few months. The biggest takeaway from the FinalX for me is continuing to see how Nick moves on the mat and identifying the weak points in his strength, and how we can exploit and improve those. Specific to Nick, we need to attack his pulling strength, unilateral explosiveness, and core explosiveness. I think if we can hammer away enough at those, it’ll be over.



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