Using Analogies to Help Kids Learn Wrestling

When teaching moves, it’s often easier to get kids to understand or remember what you are saying by using analogies or mnemonic devices. Mnemonic devices are like rhymes, sound effects or associating a move with a sound, color or object.

Here are a few I’ve found effective over the years. Some of these apply more to young kids but can certainly work with high school wrestlers also.

Stance & Position

  • Laser Beams – When kids are first learning their stance, I’ll tell them to pretend they have laser beams coming out of their eyes, shoulders, knees and toes. All the laser beams need to be aiming at the same target instead of twisting and shooting in multiple directions. When they start twisting around again, I’ll just say “Laser beams!” and they fix it.
  • Chin on a string – When level changing, their head often drops so I tell them to pretend there is a string attached to the ceiling and their chin. As they drop, the string pulls their chin up.

Taking shots

  • Don’t ride the rollercoaster – Some kids will end the shot with their head up, but on the start their head dips down. It’s like going down and up on a roller coaster. Keep reinforcing the chin stays up the whole way.
  • Elevator, not escalator – Enforcing that first level change is straight down and then the shot comes up. Not a diagonal drop like an escalator. I’ll sometimes make a sound like I’ve pushed a button and the elevator is going down.
  • Pretty face syndrome – Some kids have a subconscious reaction of turning their face away from the body right before impact when taking a shot. I tell them it’s “pretty face syndrome” and it’s their mind’s way of protecting their face from harm. But wrestling is an ugly sport so let’s get comfortable being ugly and tell your mind it’s okay for your face to make impact.

Finishing shots

  • Windshield wiper – This is the classic example most coaches use when explaining how to pivot your ankle when turning the corner on a hi-crotch/double finish.
  • Wipe the glue off your feet – I use this when kids try to finish a double and just lean into it without moving their feet. I’ll tell them their feet are stuck because of the glue, so they need to wipe the glue off.  I’ll often stop the room and have everyone wipe the imaginary glue off their feet.
  • Don’t sniff farts – When finishing doubles, oftentimes kids’ heads are too low. With an individual, I may say “you don’t like to smell farts right?”. Or if the whole room is making the mistake, I’ll joke and say “Anyone like to smell other people’s farts? If you don’t, get your head out of their butt and put it on their back.” (***NOTE: Tone is very important here. This is meant to be lighthearted and fun, not embarrassing or demeaning.)


  • Baseball bat – Pretend someone is swinging a baseball bat at your legs and knocks them back when you sprawl
  • Pretend to be a seal – For little kids, you can have them walk like a seal backwards and make the “ort ort” sound.


  • POP, PULL, DROP – mnemonic alliteration to remember what your elbow should do when setting a deep half
  • Look up at the camera – Pretend your parents are taking a picture of you when you are pinning them. This gets their head up and hips down. I’ll have them say “Cheese!”
  • Backpack – While riding and they are moving around a lot on bottom, pretending you’re a tight backpack on top.


  • Hot stove or “the mat is on fire” – Helps them make sure they aren’t keeping their hands on the mat when moving on bottom. This is especially important for switches/change overs and knee sliding.
  • Walking through a storm – Often, kids will simply defend and survive on bottom. I tell them it’s like when a cartoon or movie shows someone walking into a wind storm and trash is flying at them. If they just stand there pushing the trash off their face, they will never make it through the storm. You have to move forward WHILE blocking everything to make it through.
  • Turtle pulling his head into his shell – This is a visual for clearing out of a headlock while on their knees or while defending a front headlock.
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