Using statistics in coaching wrestling

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When Lennie Zalesky was a competitor at the University of Iowa, his coach, the legendary Dan Gable, used statistics as a motivational tool.

As a junior at Iowa, Zalesky was a team leader in major decisions (before technical falls were introduced), but had only two pins.

“Gable approached me and said, ‘You only have two pins, but you have like 20 majors. You need to learn how to pin guys,” recalled Zalesky. “We need pins.'”

Gable’s words stuck with Zalesky, who would go on to become a three-time All-American for the Hawkeyes. In the summer between his junior and seniors years, Zalesky worked on moves he used to pin wrestlers in high school and tweaked them to be effective at the collegiate level. The next season, as a senior, Zalesky more than quintupled his pin total, finishing with 11 pins.

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