I firmly believe that wrestling is at least 70% mental. Everyone out there has trained their bodies and gotten in the best shape possible. Everyone else knows almost the same exact technique. The mentality of the sport is the game-changer.
What is your Mental Edge or what sets your mindset apart from others?
My mental edge is that I am constantly trying to score points. Whether there’s 3 seconds left in the period, we are on the edge of the mat, or I’m up by 8 points, I always try to get another takedown.
How do you mentally approach the sport? Is there anything specific you do- pre match routine, writing anything down, pre plan how you'll handle pressure, visualization, etc?
I visualize my matches in practice. I pretend I am in the NCAA semifinals, or some other huge tournament coming up. The more I practiced that environment, the easier it was when it was a reality. Also, before matches I would like to hear the crowd all around me during the matches before me so I could soak up that environment.
What mentally prepared you most/ improved your confidence/ relaxed you?
I always liked to watch videos of a very successful match of mine before my competitions. Watching myself flow well, execute, and have my timing perfect allowed me to raise my confidence to that peak level.
Which coaches/ people influenced your mindset most? Why?
One of my old roommates and former VT All-American Peter Yates influenced my mindset the most. He always knew how to relax and treat wrestling like what it was—a sport, a game. He made me remember that it was just me trying to score takedowns on another guy, with nothing but us two out there. He was so good at relaxing mentally, and he passed that down to me.
What mental mistakes did you make early in your career? What would you do differently?
Earlier in my career, I was too complacent. When I was younger wrestling older guys, I was somewhat happy to just keep matches close with them. Therefore, I didn’t pull the trigger as much, and didn’t necessarily try to take the match from them. If I could go back and talk to freshman Devin Carter, I would tell him that he’s better than those guys he was taking a back seat to.
What mental mistakes are most common even at the highest level?
One of the most common mental mistakes, especially at the college level, is thinking that college wrestlers are so good that all the matches are going to be close, so winning by a point is sufficient. This is what stops guys from going out and putting a bunch of points on the board—they think it is the standard. It’s wrestling, you’re supposed to go out and outscore your opponent by as much as possible. And if you go out there trying to do that, and win by a point, then you can be satisfied that you laid it all out there.
What are your favorite motivational quotes, movies, songs, etc?
“You’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” –Wayne Gretzky
“Takedowns win matches.” –My father
What are your key philosophies for consistently high performance?
1. Routine is key. Don’t put any adversity on your body or mind if you don’t have to. Find what works and stick to it.
2. Open up. You are only going to be out there for 7 (or 6) minutes. You won’t regret being aggressive and forcing offense. You WILL regret taking a loss while not attacking.
3. Never slow down. Both individual wins and losses may slow down your training, your motivation, or your momentum. Shake off the results, and focus on the process towards the next results. (short-term memory)
What other wrestlers have a great mindset and why?
Jordan Burroughs, Alex Dieringer, Isaiah Martinez. Yes, they’re all highly skilled and a step above the rest, but their mindset makes them dominate, never winning by a point.