While sports like basketball, soccer, ice hockey and track can improve an athlete’s agility and speed, no other sport is as beneficial to football players as wrestling.

You’ve probably seen the Twitter image that shows how many current Ohio State football recruits were multi-sport athletes in high school.

It’s easy to understand why multi-sport athletes are sought after. Competing in a variety of roles shows dedication and well-rounded athletic ability. It’s also a really productive way to pass the time in your primary sport’s offseason.

And though many sports will improve overall athleticism, wrestling takes the cake.

From Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin to Miami Dolphins fullback Larry Czonka, the list of prominent football players with wrestling pedigrees is long. Nearly 6% of NFL Hall of Fame inductees competed on the mat in either high school or college.

Why? Four skills (among many others) translate directly from the wrestling mat to the football field.

Tackling form

Low hips, straight back, eyes up—the perfect stance for a takedown mirrors great tackling form. Nobody in the world does this better than Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs. (We think JB would have made an excellent strong safety.)

Hand fighting

Wrestlers are required to use their hands to fight for position, just like football players. Think about a linebacker shedding a block, or a corner jamming a receiver.


At the line of scrimmage, the lower man is more likely to win the battle. This same premise reigns on the wrestling mat, since no takedown is successfully executed without proper leverage.


Throwing, blocking and tackling all require a focus on proper footwork and lower body agility. The unparalleled footwork separating Aaron Rodgers from other NFL quarterbacks is the same skill giving wrestlers Kyle Snyder and Kyle Dake a leg up on the competition.

As football comes to an end, encourage your athletes to consider a second sport instead of just spending the offseason in the weight room. Not only will they stay in season-ready shape, they’ll come to fall camp with plenty of lessons learned from the mat.