Terry Steiner is one of the most respected wrestling coaches on the planet.
I worked closely with Terry during my 10 years with USA Wrestling and he’s someone whose opinions are worth listening to.
He’s done an excellent job as the long-time head coach for the U.S. women’s freestyle team.
When I heard Steiner’s recent comments saying the United States should wrestle freestyle instead of folkstyle, I was in total agreement.
I didn’t always feel this way. I grew up loving folkstyle wrestling while watching the Iowa state high school tournament along with the Iowa Hawkeyes on Iowa Public Television.
Steiner was the same way. He won an NCAA title for Iowa and excelled in folkstyle wrestling.
I’m a traditional, old school guy in a lot of respects, but I also see the benefits a change in style could bring to American wrestling.
The freestyle rules weren’t always the best, but now they are. They are clearly better than the folkstyle rules used at the high school and college levels.
Rule changes made during the 2013 fight to keep wrestling in the Olympics have enabled freestyle to become much more entertaining than folkstyle.
First off, there is more action in freestyle. You wrestle almost exclusively on your feet so there is more motion and activity with matches being faster-paced. It’s more exciting and fan-friendly.
Folkstyle matches quite frankly aren’t nearly as exciting as freestyle.
One of the biggest problems with folkstyle is with too much wrestling down on the mat where there isn’t much going on. Riding time is one of the biggest problems where matches become boring with one wrestler trying to hang on for a riding time point while not really working for a fall.
In freestyle, the wrestler only has a few seconds to score a turn or a fall after scoring a takedown. If he or she is not progressing toward a turn, the wrestlers are returned to their feet. That keeps the action going and doesn’t put fans to sleep.
The pushout rule in freestyle also has helped keep the action on the mat. In freestyle, wrestlers can’t afford to play the edge of the mat and bail out when they’re in danger like they can in folkstyle.
College wrestling has tried to address some of these issues, but the best way to do it is simply by going to freestyle.
The biggest reason for switching from folkstyle to freestyle is because it is a style used internationally at the Olympic level. That’s why it makes so much sense to make the change.
Switching to freestyle would make the transition from college wrestling to the international level so much easier and smoother for the athletes. And lead to even more success for the U.S. at the top level.
I still enjoy watching wrestling at the prep and collegiate levels, but I believe it would be much more entertaining if they wrestled freestyle instead of folkstyle.
The women already wrestle freestyle in college and the men need to follow suit.
Wrestling needs an exciting style of wrestling to grow and build interest and increase its fan base. And help draw more interest from national media in this country.
Freestyle wrestling is an action-packed style that can appeal to more people and attract new fans. And potentially provide more exposure for the sport.
Switching from folkstyle to freestyle would be a welcome change for wrestling in the United States.
And I believe it would greatly improve and enhance the quality of our sport.