Luke Becker | Grapple Science 001

Luke Becker | Grapple Science 001

The Key to Winning is Letting Go

We had the incredible opportunity to speak with Luke Becker. He’s been part of the University of Minnesota Gophers wrestling program for 20 years and is currently the Head Assistant Coach. Take a moment for that the sink in. 

Not only is Luke an NCAA National Champion himself, but he’s wrestled alongside of and coached some of the most impactful athletes in this sport, including National Champions like Brock Lesnar, Jared Lawrence, Damion Hahn, Dustin Schlatter, Cole Konrad, Jayson Ness, Tony Nelson and US Olympic Gold Medalist Gable Steveson. 

He’s also gained tremendous experience with the rise of Mixed Martial Arts helping wrestlers transition into professional careers, working with Gopher athletes and alumni like Logan Storley, Michael Blockhus, Brock and Gable to name a few.  During Luke’s tenure, the University of Minnesota wrestling program has won 3 National Titles as a team, making it one of the most elite and accomplished programs in NCAA athletics.

Luke knows the sport better than most, and shared some incredible insights with us during this interview.  He talks about the balance of strength and conditioning with mat time and hits on tough topics like weight cutting.  There is so much information and experience from NCAA wrestling that translates directly into other grappling sports, whether for jiu jitsu or the MMA ground game. 

Here are a few highlights from our discussion.

  • Mindset is the difference maker. Luke unpacks this concept in the preparation, training and competition environment, providing insights into the characteristics of champions.
  • Hard work beats talent that is unmotivated. At the the NCAA level, everyone is a beast. The Gopher team specifically recruits athletes where the sport is their lifestyle. Passion and commitment are a huge difference maker at this level. 
  • Wrestlers that stop competing, focus on their own improvement and have fun are the ones that make massive gains in their performance.
  • The team focuses on morning mat time when athletes are fresh followed by supplemental strength and conditioning in the afternoon. This model was researched and adopted after researching the performance of the most elite at the Olympic level.
  • They target staying within 4% of your weight-class weight and systematically approach weight cutting so that athletes are fresh and strong.
  • Wrestling is the fastest growing high school sport in America for both boys and girls. Luke refers to it as a family sport and notes the impact of MMA and the success of wrestlers in that sport as a big catalyst for this growth.

These highlights barely scratch the surface. Luke shares some incredible knowledge in this interview.