Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Avenging a loss

At the end of every wrestling season the majority of wrestlers that fell short of achieving their goal tend to say the same thing. “It’s not fair. I did everything right. I did everything I possibly could to be the best.” Our job when we here this statement, either as a coach or a parent is to say “Prove it.”

Challenging kids to confirm the realization that they did or didn’t do “everything they could” is perfectly acceptable and encouraged. Kids are never too young to learn about accountability and to realize that there are certain outcomes that they can control. Not everything is out of their hands. Not everything is the refs fault. Not everything is due to some injustice or unfairness.

The goal of every wrestler that was not an undefeated State Champ the previous year should be the same. This goal should be to outwork and defeat the person who blemished their perfect record. A loss should never be accepted. Excuses should never be made. I hate when I hear he cut more weight, he was stronger, he was older…all things that are not under the control of the wrestler. The only excuses that I will accept are…
I didn’t push myself, I didn’t do enough in the off season, I should have conditioned more, I should have focused more on my technique….

So how is this goal achieved?

How do you overcome the challenge of changing the outcome of a sound beating or even an overtime loss to a quality opponent?

The key I believe is to simply outwork the opponent that beat you. If everything remains the same over the course of an off season, how can a wrestler expect to turn a loss into a win? If the wrestlers grow at the same rate, have similar gains in strength and speed, and improve at a similar rate technically, the outcome cannot be expected to be different even 1 out of 10 times.

How can a wrestler be certain that they are outworking their rival every day and in every way?

The real answer is a wrestler can never be 100% sure. The key is to slant the odds that you are doing more than them to such a degree that you basically eliminate the possibility that anyone regardless of desire or skill level could be putting in more effort. A wrestler must train everyday physically and mentally at such a level that he cannot be matched or surpassed even by the most driven opponent.

I think it is not unrealistic to strive for a 7 day a week improvement plan. Note I didn’t say a 7 day a week workout plan. I believe you can improve in a number of areas without leaving your couch. The key to perfecting your improvement plan is to do something each day to make yourself better. That may be physically or just as important in my opinion, mentally. Your body and mind have needs for rest that are equally important. I don’t believe however that both should ever be dormant on the same day. While the body is recovering the brain should be training and vice versa.

Physically the effort exerted by a wrestler needs to surpass the limits they set for themselves the previous year. When training the body it needs to be pushed to the brink of failure. Through experience and proper training an athlete can take his muscles and body to places they didn’t know was possible. When I competed the best feeling in the world was being motivated by a coach especially at the end of practice to work your muscles to failure. Doing five more level changes, going 30 more seconds at the end of a 30 minute go, doing ten more sprints.

While making sure your muscles are conditioned well enough to withstand the rigors of what this extra work will do to the athlete’s body, even more important is having the mindset to allow yourself to achieve the physical goals set for the wrestler. Wrestlers don’t win championships by going through the motions. There can be no let down half way through practice, no quitting, no resting five seconds before the end whistle. Once conditioned the body can do amazing things but not without being mentally tough as well.

Mental training is overlooked by the mediocre coach or the average wrestler. The ones that excel at the highest level realize the importance of pushing and conditioning the mind with the same level of intensity that the body is trained. Coaches and parents dismiss the ability of even youth wrestlers to understand and utilize mental training techniques. Many of these mental training tools can be altered or modified to reach the target audience regardless of age or experience. Wrestlers need to train their mind to the point where the desire to improve is greater than the desire to allow their body to succumb to the physical fatigue and pain. A wrestlers muscles are able to withstand much more fatigue before failure then most wrestlers can exert. The reason wrestlers stop short of pushing themselves to new limits is because their mind tells them to quit long before their body would.

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