Five Point Move is proud to host US Greco Roman National Team Head Coach Matt Lindland every week for “Coach Lindland’s Report.” For fans and wrestlers looking for insights regarding the US Greco National Team, we ask Coach Lindland some questions to get his take on training and upcoming competitions. If you have any questions you’d like us to ask going forward let us know via Facebook, Twitter, or through our Contact page.
This week, we speak to Coach Lindland the night before the Greco Concord Camp opens, which will see the Seniors and Olympic Team members get in work alongside their Junior counterparts. We started off discussing why Cadet and Junior-age athletes seem to be more prepared to make big decisions regarding their careers than those in generations past, particularly referring to Nick Boykin’s recent announcement and G’Angelo Hancock’s participation in a school assembly as a speaker. Coach Lindland also let us in on what he’s interested in seeing out of Andy Bisek in the upcoming Beat the Streets event taking place this Thursday. Plus, we hit on some interesting camp details for those wondering.
5PM; Do you think the athletes of today are more prepared than say, those of a generation or two ago?
Coach Matt Lindland: I would say “yes.” I would say that the athletes of this generation are a lot more mature. They’re just wiser in the ways of the world and they have a lot more options than even a generation ago, certainly more from when I was coming out of high school. I was pretty immature as far as knowing what to do. But I also didn’t start wrestling when I was six or eight years old. I started wrestling when I was 15, so I was just getting started.
These athletes who are starting wrestling so early, you’ve got to let them experience some bigger options. You’ve got to let them see the world, compete internationally. You know, guys like we were just talking about, Alston Nutter, he competed overseas. He travels overseas, he understands that there is a bigger world than just his state or his region. Or even in terms of national competition. I mean, everyone wants to be the state champion but what about the World champion? That’s big and that’s what some of these athletes are striving for. And realistically, when I was wrestling I didn’t know there was a Cadet or Junior World Championships. All I knew about was Senior stuff. The whole, Someday when I’m a Senior athlete, those are going to be my goals, I want to Olympic medals and World medals. But I didn’t even know. Did it exist? Were there even Cadet World Championships? Were there even Junior World Championships? I didn’t even know because I wasn’t exposed to that world.
5PM: These younger guys even talk differently. I talked to (Nick) Boykin and he sounds like he’s 25. I talked to G’Angelo and he has incredible confidence speaking, has “mic skills” and charisma. He sounds like a pro.
ML: Well first of all, he is a professional athlete. He’s on the Senior National team now, that legitimately qualifies him as a professional athlete. I think athletes and people of his generation understand it’s important to be authentic in your speech and what you’re talking about. When we went out to talk to the elementary school kids I reminded G’Angelo that we’ve all made mistakes in life. We’ve all done things that we would do differently in the future. I told him, “Don’t be afraid to be real and share your experiences with these young kids you’re talking to. And then show them the path you’re on now.” Because no matter where you are at you can change, you can mature, you can grow up and evolve. And he did such a good job, I was so proud of him for the way that he got up in front of these young kids.
And he does have a ton of charisma. Even my wife’s like, “That kid is such a flirt.” (Laughs) He’s going to go so far in life with that ability to flirt and be charismatic. He does, he has very big gift for that, he really does.
5PM: Camp opens in Concord on Thursday. The Olympic athletes will work with you in the mornings to refine skills and specific target areas. Is their curriculum individualized according to each guy or will their training be as a group?
ML: The focus of this training camp is going to be for each of our athletes to work on their individual skills. We’ve gone over film with our athletes, we have looked at areas we want to improve on and make some adjustments in. Specifically for Jesse, we looked at his top position in par terre. He still has a little space on his gut and he needs to close that up. Drive with his legs more. We talked about that specific area. On par terre defense there is one gutwrench he’s having a little difficulty with and that is when the guys are doing that old-school Cuban elbow-to-elbow lift. And I wrestled Filberto Ascuy, two-time Olympic champion and that was his go-to move. I think I figured out a few things I can help Jesse with on that. The other thing was, later in the tournament (2nd OG Qualifier) when he started creating more angles of attack his scoring really opened up. We saw one match where it was 17 points after the first period. But what he was doing was creating angles of attack. And he didn’t start doing that until later in the tournament, the second, the third, and the fourth matches. He got better, but we need him really focusing on bigger angles to open up his ducks and his drags.
The other focus of the camp is going to be our base conditioning. We’ll spend a lot of time with Bulgarian bags, dummies, and bands. We’re going to really focus on our base conditioning. It’ll be one mat workout, one base conditioning workout. And then in the afternoons, the Senior athletes are going to get to teach the Junior athletes. So the Seniors will take those same skills they were working on in the morning and then they will go in the afternoon and share that with the Juniors. They’ll get the opportunity to teach and to coach. Because I always feel like if you have the ability to explain it and teach this technique you can really own it a lot more. You could do it, but you can’t really break it down. So you have to be able to break it down to understand why. I think Simon Sinek had a great book about “why?” You know, like, Here’s why I do something, not just how I do it. And if you understand the “why”, I think you’ll be more clear on your execution.
5PM: So in other words, something one of the wrestlers, like Jesse, would work on with you in the morning they will actually go ahead and show that to the Juniors?
ML: Yes. Here’s an area that I’ve been struggling with that I’ve been working on and I’m going to share this with you guys and here’s why I am sharing it. So then they will get to break it down and explain that to the Junior athletes.
5PM: That sounds like an absolutely incredible opportunity for the Juniors.
ML: I think it’s a win-win, to tell you the truth. I think the Senior athletes win because they enjoy sharing their knowledge and what they have learned with the Juniors and engaging these guys and bringing them into our Greco Roman program. And for sure, the Junior athletes get the opportunity to work with guys like Jesse, Robby, or Ben Provisor. These guys are excited to be able to train alongside and work with the Olympic team. What an incredible opportunity if you are a Junior athlete. Wouldn’t that be cool?
5PM: It sounds amazing. Okay, and then finally we have the Beat the Streets event, which sees Andy Bisek in perhaps the most marquee match-up of the night against Kim Hyeon-woo. What are you looking for in Andy’s match on Thursday?
Coach Matt Lindland: Andy Bisek’s got a very marquee match-up with Kim, who was the Olympic champ in 2012 and the World champ in 2013, and he’s absolutely one of the best guys at 75 kilos. But what I’m looking for in Andy is to go out there, have fun and put on a show. He knows how to wrestle. We also know what Kim brings to the table, the guy’s a ball of fire, he’s going to come at you and he’s not going to stop attacking. And he’s an absolute ninja who is going to keep coming forward. Andy is going to need to open up and go out there and put some points up on the board and put on a show. This is a showcase event. There is nothing at stake, so go out, have fun, and enjoy this match and this opportunity to compete in front of the American fans in New York City in Times Square. That’s what I’m looking for.