The way I see it, you can look at nervousness one of two ways.
1- Nervousness means I am under pressure, afraid, shaky, etc.
2- Nervousness means I am spirited, full of adrenaline, human, focused, etc.
Great wrestlers and competitors perceive nervousness as the latter. They look at it from a positive light, as something that makes them stronger, faster, and sharper.
This past fall we asked a bunch of top wrestlers and coaches about their Mental Edge when they competed. All American Darren Schulman said his Mental Edge is that he knew he would wrestle his best in matches/tournaments because he had extra adrenaline. Cael Sanderson said that he and other great wrestlers looked at prematch nervousness as being spirited and ready to go.
We all feel some nervousness before a match. Heroes and cowards have the same feelings/emotions. They simply perceive them and act differently. Both the hero and the coward feel nervous as they contemplate running into a burning building. The coward likely perceives the nervousness as fear and doesn't approach the building. The hero may perceive these nerves as adrenaline or simply normal BUT acts anyway and runs in.
The bottom line- you have a choice. Perceive the nervousness as pressure and fear OR perceive the nervousness as being human, spirited and full of adrenaline. The choice is yours!
Maybe you suffered an injury this season that kept you inactive for a while, maybe you lost to several opponents that you know you are better than. None of this matters at this point. In fact, the only thing that matters and will directly effect your postseason success is the way that you interpret these events (injuries, losses, illness, etc.).
Lets take two who wrestlers who suffered similar losses to opponents they "should have" beat. One wrestler interprets this loss as a sign that they are not improving and that they are in a "funk". The other wrestler views this loss as the best thing that could happen to them. They learn a technical lesson from the match, they use it as motivation, it helps them focus, and so on. Logan Stieber is a good example of this. After he lost a match earlier this season, he said that the loss is the best thing that could have happened to him. Since then he has dominated every opponent he has faced.
Lets look at two wrestlers who were sidelined with injuries for a few weeks/months during the season. One wrestler interprets this injury as huge setback. "I lost too much time, my shoulder is holding me back, I will never be healthy again" and so on. Maybe they self handicap and use this as an excuse for the rest of the season. Another wrestler looks at the injury and "time off" as the best thing that happened to them. They say things like, "I really benefited from the time off, that was a well needed break, I got to fully recover and grow stronger, this injury allowed me to step back and add perspective to my career, I am a better wrestler because of the injury"
Whether the loss or the injury ACTUALLY is the best thing for you and your career is irrelevant. All that REALLY matters is how you interpret the situation. When I worked on Wall Street there was a common expression- Perception is 90% of Reality. Without a doubt this applies to wrestling as well. The way you perceive an event is 90% of reality.
If you believe a loss or an injury made you better or stronger, then it probably did or will. Conversely, if you think a loss or an injury is going to hold you back or hurt your performance, than it probably will. Injuries, losses, and other "setbacks" are only negatives if you view them as such.
At this point in the season, you need to believe that everything that happened to you throughout the season and your career is the BEST thing that could have happened to you. Any injury or loss or sickness, is part of your unique training that will only make you stronger.
Mindset Tip for wrestlers struggling with confidence from previous losses or injuries: Make a long list of other wrestlers who suffered losses and injuries during the season, who came back stronger and won district, state, or national titles. Do some research if you have to, but I think you'll find that you aren't the only one in this situation. Many others have comeback successfully, why not you? Start interpreting "setbacks" as your own unique story and training that is making you stronger!
1. Becoming too much of a fan, instead of a competitor. Stop reading the papers and forums. Throw away any rankings or predictions you see. When you compete in a tournament- stop watching too much wrestling. It usually makes wrestlers more nervous, less focused, and more aware of the crowd and other external factors. Instead focus on your own performance. You are 0-0 now. Ranking and predictions mean nothing.
2. Focusing too much on winning. This adds pressure and does little to help you. Focus on scoring points and winning each position. The result will take care of itself.
3. Blaming the referee. Bad calls happen, mistakes are made and if you are in NJ you are going to get hit with stalls on top in the third period. You cannot control the ref, but you CAN control how you react to them. If you thought you had a TD, stop complaining and get another one. If you got hit with a stall on top, be creative and find a way to score back points or get another TD. Remember, "Sometimes you have to win the match two or three times"-Zeke Jones. Control the things you CAN control, your EFFORT and ATTITUDE.
4. Wrestling like you have something to defend aka wrestling not to lose. Maybe you won a district, state, or national title last season. Go after it again with the same fearlessness. Don't let last year's title slow you down. Take chances and pull the trigger again.
5. Not controlling everything you can control. Better Nutrition and Sleep Habits lead to less weight cutting, more energy, and a better mood. A good prematch routine helps you compete more confidently, relaxed, and focused. Don't leave these aspects to chance. These little things win the close matches.
6. Giving any opponent too much respect. Anyone following HS or college wrestling this season should have learned that they ALL can be beat. Go after each opponent with the same intensity, regardless of his name. No one is invincible, everyone has a breaking point, ALL are vulnerable. Expect to win, believe in yourself even if no one else does. "Upsets" start in the Mind of the "underdog". See it, believe it, achieve it.
6.5 Smoking, drugs, alcohol, dipping, etc. I wish I didn't even have to mention this one, but unfortunately I see it all too much. In terms of performance, smoking and dipping increases heart rate and constricts blood vessels (obviously poor for endurance) and alcohol decreases testosterone. You are a fool if you think these things are going to get you closer to your postseason goals.
What is the Magic Man's greatest asset?
Technique, speed, power, timing, conditioning, and on and on. Don't get me wrong he has those too, but his greatest asset is his Confidence.
I believe this is what separates David Taylor from the pack. Before each match, he KNOWS he is going to score a ton of points, he KNOWS he is going to get 5 or 6 takedowns and a few sets up back points. Combine this supreme Confidence with the other attributes and you put points on the scoreboard.
DT is constantly moving forward, pressing the action, and looking to score points. He proceeds confidently knowing he WILL score points in each position.
A big part of our Mindset Training is spent focusing on two principles with our wrestlers.
(1) Constantly look to score points, no matter what the score. (never sit on leads, hold back or go down without swinging)
(2) Believing that you WILL score points from each position. (this one takes much more training but separates the good from the great)
The Magic Man is a physical force no doubt, but his Confidence is what blows his matches wide open.
Mark Twain put it well, "To succeed in life you need two things- ignorance and confidence." The wrestler who has BOTH ignorance and confidence is the wrestler who has a CHANCE to beat the Magic Man.
From a Mental and Physical standpoint though, you got to love David Taylor. He wrestles with confidence and swagger that I use as a model to almost all my athletes. Technique and physicality will take you far, but Confidence will take you to the Top!
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