UFC great Daniel Cormier is passing on lessons from his decorated wrestling career to the next generation. Speaking on a recent podcast, Cormier explained how he is training kids at his youth wrestling club to vehemently avoid conceding positions on their backs.
“I’m trying to trick them in the mind that their back is literally the most the worst place in the world,” Cormier said.
He confessed that traumatic experiences being pinned and nearly submitted earlier in his MMA career shaped this mentality that he aims to ingrain in his athletes.
Cormier remarked that he panics even when waking up accidentally sleeping on his back despite no real danger. “I literally have kind of trained myself to where I’m like, I’m getting pinched. I don’t think about it,” he said. “If [my kids] are stretching, I’m like dozing on your back, I’m like, no, no long. I try to trick them in the mind that their back is literally the most the worst place in the world.”
This hard-nosed coaching approach has produced several successful wrestlers already. Cormier recently sent a group of kids from his program to Russia for intense month-long training trips, crucially during the school year. He believes that this extreme immersion forces rapid development for the young grapplers.
Cormier’s wrestling credentials as an Olympic captain and MMA championshipcareer command respect from parents and athletes alike. His intense perspective on never giving up positions originates from the realities of combat sports. But instilling such extreme accountability for inferior positions from a young age in his mat rats may raise some questions. Still, Cormier feels that establishing this wrestling mentality will pay dividends down the line.