Kids Can Tell When You Care About Them
Former Olympic Head Coach Jim Humphrey Brings His School to Colorado
By Bill X. Barron, Associated Wrestling Press
According to former Head Olympic Freestyle Coach Jim Humphrey, success comes down to mastering the fundamentals through drilling, hard work, and remaining focused. “When I took over the Indiana University wrestling program, they had been last in the Big 10 for 5 straight years. We had no blue-chip recruits, but we found wrestlers that were still hungry and wanted to get better, so we drilled 50 high crotches, 40 single legs and 40 stand-ups a day for 5 years. Five years later we were runner-up in the Big 10s and 8th at the NCAA’s, crowning our first National Champ in 40 years.”
Jim’s extensive competitor background includes a Big Ten and a University National championship; he competed on 4 US World teams (Silver Medalist in 1977), as well as winning 5 national freestyle championships. On the international level, Jim has served as head coach of the 1984 Canadian Olympic Team, the 1986 & 1987 U.S. World Teams, and the 1988 U.S. Olympic Team. The U.S. won 20 World Medals in those 3 years, including 5 Gold Medalists!
Humphrey believes that “you need to teach the body how to react through building muscle memory. The Soviets, annually the best team in the world, do not let their kids compete until they are 16 years old. In looking at the U.S. performances at the international level in recent years, it is clear that we have moved away from good technique and tactical thinking.”
Since his first trip to the Olympic Training Center as a competitor in the 1970’s, Jim Humphrey has returned to Colorado many times, knowing that some of the best wrestling in the country resides here. Jim notes that four members of the 2017 World Junior Team are Colorado wrestlers: Malik Heinselman 50kg and Ryan Deakin 66 kg in Freestyle as well as G’Angelo Hancock 96kg and Cohlton Schultz 120kg in Greco. In addition, Denver’s Maya Nelson 63kg made the Women’s Team, and Hancock (Jr./Sr.) along with Schultz (Cadet/Jr.) earned spots on two World teams this summer.
Now Coach Humphrey, in direct affiliation with RMN Events, is relocating his wrestling school to northern Colorado in the Longmont/Loveland/Erie corridor. His plan is to begin with club practices, then expand to a Regional Training Center, with selected athletes from all over the country forming a Team Xtreme (sponsored by Xtreme Pro) for international competition. Jim will be the featured clinician for the Colorado High School Wrestling Coaches’ annual clinic on November 3rd.
Humphrey’s main philosophy is to have each individual “master a couple of techniques and situations that you can perform on anybody. Good tactics include knowing how to build upon and maintain a lead. Before you go to bed each night, go through the mental imagery of executing a successful move. From Dan Gable, I learned to push everyone hard but also to know when to back off. I treat each wrestler as an individual; I let them know that I care about them as a person. My success as a coach comes from their success as an individual. If you know how to overcome adversity, how to come from behind to win, then you maintain faith in your best effort.”
On as well as off the mat, Jim believes that future employers will want to “hire wrestlers because they are not devastated by a loss. Wrestling is the toughest sport in the world. If you come up short, then rely upon ‘kaizen, the Japanese philosophy of getting better each day. Sometimes all we want is to win today, whereas it’s all about getting up after being knocked down. The single loss that Gable sustained in high school and college in his last match made him work that much harder.”
If Jim has any advice to an up-and-coming wrestler, it is to “be a student of the sport. Dave Schultz used to believe he could learn from everyone; in fact, he studied Russian so he could communicate better with their athletes. Different moves work for each individual, thus it is helpful for a wrestler experience different coaches who emphasize certain techniques. All that matters is that you reach your goals.”
Olympic Coach Jim Humphrey Teaching at Humphrey Wrestling
Jim Humphrey Competing at World Cup