What does it take to be successful in the NCAA tournament? Think about some of the most impressive wrestlers in the tournament. Then ask yourself what do they have in common? That is a pretty good starting point. From a performance standpoint some of their qualities are pretty obvious:
- Looking to score a lot of points. Not satisfied to eek out a win.
- Not afraid to Pull the Trigger on big moves.
- Loose and relaxed (even smiling) before and during matches.
The day before the NCAA tournament there was a coaches interview on Flowrestling. Coach Koll from Cornell made an excellent point. He said something to the extent that the wrestlers who find success in the NCAA tournament are the ones who are looking to dominate each match and score a lot of points. He said that if a wrestler is trying to eek out 1 or 2 point wins each round, chances are that at least one of those matches doesn't go in their favor.
In other words look to dominate and you may win. Look to eek by and you will likely come up short. If you want to be an All American aim and train to be a NCAA Champ. If you want to be an NCAA Champ aim and train to dominate the tournament.
Shoot for the moon because if you miss you will still be among the stars -Marcus Allen
Many of the most successful wrestlers were "shooting for the moon."
Coach John Smith said in an interview that Alex Dieringer set a goal to be the Most Outstanding wrestler before the tournament. Maybe he came up short but did he really? He won his 2nd National Title in dominant fashion. What sticks out in my mind is Dieringer looking to score with 10 seconds left in the bout. He was relentless.
Cody Brewer did not shut down his offense after scoring two takedowns in the national finals. Instead he got 3 or 4 more. There was no let up.
Zeke Moisey pulled the trigger all tournament. There was no hesitation in throwing the kitchen sink at each opponent.
Kyven Gadson hits the big throw in a one point match to get the fall in the finals.
Logan Stieber is the poster boy for looking to dominate on pulling the trigger in every match every round.
Isaiah Martinez keep attacking and attacking. He isn't satisfied to just win.
Nick Gwiazdowski wrestles like a lightweight and gets to his offense all match.
They say defense wins championships. I don't think that applies to wrestling. The most impressive wrestlers we watched this weekend went after their offense and pulled the trigger each match.
In no way am I saying this is easy to do. In order to Pull the Trigger you need 3 things:
1. Confidence in your go to moves
2. Poise before and during the match. Controlling nerves and anxiety is essential to pull the trigger.
3. No Fear of Losing or making mistakes. Once you overcome this fear a major burden is lifted.
Takes time and takes practice. But if you want to wrestle like Moisey, Tomasello, Brewer, Stieber, Dieringer, Gadson or Gwiazdowski you better learn how to pull the trigger and look to dominate each bout.
1. Stop cutting weight!
The number one reason for burnout in the sport of wrestling is that wrestler's are sick of cutting weight. We have worked with so many wrestlers who were ready to quit simply because they felt they needed to make a certain weight class or because they were sick of cutting weight. Most Rec wrestlers should not be cutting more than 2 lbs. It may not seem like a big deal now but you could rest assure it will be once they are in high school or college.
2. Realize that winning doesn't make you a better wrestler. Improving makes you a better wrestler.
Too much emphasis is placed on winning and records in American wrestling. Many wrestlers and parents judge improvement based on number of wins, winning percentage or what they placed in a tournament. I would rather my wrestler lose more matches and place lower in different tournaments if he/she improved more and enjoyed competing. We see this a lot with our college wrestlers. They come in to college with the expectation that they need to wrestle the lowest weight possible to be successful. Then the whole season they focus on weight management rather than on improvement. Maybe they crack the lineup and have a few more wins but this actually hurts them tremendously for the rest of their career. The following year they are not nearly as good as they would have been had they focused each day on getting better. You always need to keep your end goal in mind. You may be helping yourself today but killing your performance down the line. Cutting weight and winning doesn't make you a better wrestler, getting better each day does.
3. Develop skills instead of learning a million moves.
I believe too much time is spent learning new technique at the rec level. Technique is essential don't get me wrong. But technique alone won't be enough at higher levels. You need to have physical and mental skills to be successful in HS, college and beyond. Wrestlers should spend more time improving different skills- footwork, body awareness, flexibility, active hips, etc. Then there are the mental skills which often go completely under the radar- dealing with pressure, bouncing back from losses and setbacks, confidence, mental toughness, etc. Focus on these skills and the rest will become much easier.
4. Depth over Breadth any day of the week.
Again wrestlers now learn so much technique at such a young age. Now look at the best wrestlers in the country and the world. Do they hit dozens of flashy moves each match? No. The best wrestlers are usually just a little better at executing the basics then other wrestlers. They are more fundamentally sound and have great positioning. Jordan Burroughs will take you down with a double leg. David Taylor and Cael Sanderson will take you down with an ankle pick. Logan Stieber will hit a sweep single on you. No surprises not a ton of flash. You are much better off getting REALLY good at one or two moves/positions then learning 100 moves in each position. Depth over Breadth all day every day!
***5. BONUS: Get the Kids Mindset Training Program Today!! Olympic Mindset lessons made simple for youth athletes. We have broken down the mindset program we use with the Olympic team, college teams and HS teams across the country so kids can learn to apply these lessons on and off the mat. This may be the greatest gift you can get your kid this year.
Wrestling Mindset would like to congratulate St. Cloud State University coaches Steve Costanzo and Brady Wilson on leading their team to a Division II National Championship. St. Cloud had 6 All Americans, including 2 finalists and one National Champion. We are proud to have worked with the team for the past two seasons with our Team Mindset Program. Congratulations to all coaches, staff and wrestlers at St. Cloud State University!
Learn more about St. Cloud State Wrestling and their National Championship.
At this point in the season a lot of wrestlers, even very confident wrestlers, are having self doubts before and during competition. Is it wrong to have these self doubts or negative thoughts? Does it mean that you lack confidence? Does it mean there is something wrong with you?
The thoughts/doubts are NOT the main problem. The problem is how we perceive these thoughts and the way we respond to them.
Here is a three step process to effectively deal with self doubts:
(1) Accept the negative thoughts and self doubts. You are NOT your thoughts. You are NOT mentally weak because you doubts. Your mind is a reflex organ. It reacts to everything. Doubts are natural and human. You need to accept that they will pop into your head from time to time.
(2) Prevent a snowball effect of negative thoughts/doubts. We can not control every thought we have but we can take control of our thought patterns. When we have self doubts we need to shift from negative to positive. We do this by creating a word, phrase or action to refocus on the positives. For instance, before a match we may think "What if I lose?" Usually wrestlers panic at this point. They start to wonder why the thought popped in. Then the mind tends to create all kinds of "logical" reasons- "I didn't prepare enough" "This kid might be better than me" "I lack confidence" "I must be too nervous" and on and on. After the first negative thought use a phrase or action that breaks this pattern of negativity (i.e. No I am ready now!). Use this as often as you have negative thoughts. It will help to break up the pattern and create a pattern of positive thoughts.
(3) Focus more each day on your strengths and things that you have been doing well. Most wrestlers are terrible at this. We always hear about what and how much we need to improve. Leave the improvement process for practice. Write down the areas you need to improve on and spend the rest of the day thinking about your strengths and positive performances. The better you get at this the less negative thoughts you will have before competition. Sounds easy but takes daily effort and practice.
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