Often people wonder how we evaluate things like talent, potential and overall ability. It is not easy nor is there an exact formula. Pundits will most likely all agree that there is often a lot of disagreement. Ranking future success is subjective by nature. So basically we rely on our wrestling knowledge and look for things in a wrestler that may not be obvious if you are just looking at scores and results.
First off you will see us use the term “College Ready”. What does this even mean you may ask yourself? College ready means we believe that an athlete has the tools to compete right away. We break this down into three groups; Base Technique, Physical development and Wrestling IQ (which we will explain more in a bit.)
We are looking for specific skills sets that we think translate well to the college level. This does not mean “flashy” this means we are looking for a very solid foundation. On the feet we are looking for guys who keep good position. They are not reaching with the wrong arm; they are not coming out of a good position etc… We look for people who know how to create angles and move their opponent out of position while maintaining solid position themselves. Are they intuitive when it comes to counter shots or do they capitalize on those angles they are creating? We look to see what a wrestler does when their attacks are blocked or stopped. We want to see them work to re-establish a good position and not just sit in a bad one. These are just a few examples of what we look for. But those wrestlers who have a real solid base tend to adjust well when the move to college. Finally, we look for wrestlers who show the ability to wrestle from all three positions, Feet, Bottom and Top.
Although this one appears to be rather obvious, we are not just talking about brute strength. That is a major aspect, but we also look at other things. Such as their current weight class and if their physical make up is ready for that weight in college. We also look at how a wrestler can control his own body and how he reacts to certain situations from a physical perspective. This helps give insight to coordination, agility and flexibility. All of these are key factors when evaluating an athlete.
Now this one is harder to quantify. We are looking for mat awareness, situational awareness and over all mental attitudes. Does the wrester appear to always know where he in on the mat. Does it appear he knows when to take a risk and when not to? Things like this help is determine the level of mat awareness a wrestler may have. Does a wrestler understand what to do or not to do in certain situations? We try and figure that out while watching in person or via video. Finally there is the over mental toughness/attitude of the wrestler. This one is rather hard to define at times. But we look for the guy who has the ability to put his opponent away. Or a wrestler who does not stop wrestling at his highest level no matter the score or how tired they may be.
These are some examples of what we look at when talking about college ready wrestlers. But keep in mind this is generally a very small number. Most wrestlers can and should benefit from a redshirt year. Top prospects are those that show great signs in the areas we list. Rarely do we see high school wrestlers who excel in all three areas.
We hope this sheds some light on how we evaluate and helps show how we look at things.