Wrestling in the zone-Wrestling is a sport that is meant to flow. It lacks the start and stop of other sports. The sport of wrestling, when executed at the highest level, mimics that more of a dance then a battle. The ebb and flow of the match and the wrestler’s movements can almost be mesmerizing.
Wrestlers work tirelessly to perfect their technique in order to perform with such accuracy and precision that their body’s execution becomes flawless. They know just how to shift their weight or move their hips even just an inch or two to get the desired outcome from their body and that of their opponents. All this repetition and precision is building up to that one moment when all the individual parts add up to becoming a complete wrestler.
Once this level is achieved, gone are the days of thinking then doing. The wrestler’s body transitions into full auto mode and the results can be astonishing. Their attacks are more fierce, more controlled, more explosive. All hesitation and doubt are removed and what’s left is an unstoppable force.
Just like flinching when someone throw a punch at you, the wrestlers body naturally reacts to the given situation, can evaluate the competitors body position, and calculate angle and force, like the world best mathematician. When your mind can be on anything else but wrestling when you are in the moment, you know you have truly started to wrestle in the zone. I have heard of guys that can think about homework, lyrics to a song, make up a to do list, all while competing. Your mind, while subconsciously focused on the match at hand can wander other places because what so many train and treat as work has become just an afterthought.
When you walk down the street, your body is propelled to its destination almost effortlessly. When really millions of neurons and receptors are working overtime to get your legs to move with intent and purpose to where your body needs to go. You don’t think to yourself, “pick up left foot, place left foot down, pick up right foot, place right foot down.” Your body stays in constant balance adjusting in nanoseconds and shifting your weight constantly to keep your body upright and moving. Eventually a wrestler wants to reach the point where the movements used in the sport are as effortless and natural as going for a Sunday stroll. Their body knows even before the conscious mind does, what it needs to do and the sequence of events that are necessary in order to reach its goal.
There is no set number of reps or drills that you can quantify to ensure you reach “The Zone.” How long it takes and at what age you reach this level is totally individual to each competitor. Some can have entered this Zen like state on the mat by age 10 and some by age 18. Some it takes a few years and unfortunately for some, they may never reach it. There is no set threshold to surpass to reach this level. It doesn’t automatically happen after 100 matches or 1000.
Upon reaching “The Zone” not only does thinking change during the match, but in turn so does the usual outcome. I contend that more wins are experienced by wrestlers that reach “The Zone” then those that do not. Also, if a wrestler is less focused on technique, it allows room for their mind on other things that were normally conveyed by their coach. No longer will they have to ask what the score is, how much time is left, or how many stallings do I have?
Since thinking about their next move is no longer an issue their approach to the match can now be more tactical and strategic. The wrestler can take more ownership for decisions made during the match and in turn more ownership of the outcome. This teaches an increased level of maturity on the mat. The wrestler can no longer blame the coach for not conveying the necessary information at the appropriate time. Gone will be the constant chirping of the micro-managing coach.
Wrestling in the zone is something all wrestlers should strive for and all coaches should enjoy once a wrestler reaches this level. Don’t rush the process though as it will happen when it’s time. When it happens everyone will know it and the next phase of marching towards greatness can truly begin.