If you have followed this blog for any amount of time, you have probably seen me reference Dan Gable. Not only was Gable one of the greatest wrestlers ever, he was equally successful as a coach. It is not often that such a dominant athlete can mirror his own success while coaching. Many great athletes have natural abilities so they struggle to teach others who do not possess the same raw talent. Gable was unique in this regard. As the head wrestling coach at the University of Iowa, he led teams to 16 NCAA titles and 21 straight Big Ten titles. In other words, Gable knows a few things about training and athletic development. When he speaks, it is a good idea to listen.
Dan Gable’s Training Style
Unfortunately, Dan Gable’s message does not receive nearly as much attention as it deserves. For instance, the 2012 video below has only received a fraction of the views that many of today’s popular online trainers receive in matter of hours. It’s mind boggling to think that a so-called guru (who never trained anyone) is getting more attention than one of the most dominant athletes and coaches in recent history.
As for the video itself, it is always nice to see athletes from other sports who benefit from the heavy bag. Perhaps I am biased as a former fighter and current boxing trainer, but I have always felt that heavy bag training was useful for athletes in many sports.
Punching the bag will improve coordination, power, hand speed, and more. Such attributes can be useful for all. You certainly do not need to be a fighter to benefit from heavy bag training. And it goes without saying that heavy bag training does not require a state of the art facility. For example, I have shown how an old stack of tires can be used as an effective punching bag (see here).
In summary, Dan Gable signifies one of the greatest examples of low-tech, high-effect training. Gable never relied on anything fancy to prepare himself for the mat. The difference between Gable and everyone else wasn’t the tools that he used, but rather the relentless effort and drive that he displayed continuously year after year.
Plain and simple, Gable outworked everyone around him. He was as relentless with his training as he was on the mat. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If there was ever an athlete or coach to study and learn from, Dan Gable’s name certainly deserves a spot towards the top of the list.
“I was going to work at it every day, so hard that I would be the toughest guy in the world. By the end of practice, I wanted to be physically tired, to know that I’d been through a workout. If I wasn’t tired, I must have cheated somehow, so I stayed longer.” – Dan Gable