I don't need to sell anyone on the importance of Confidence in wrestling. Simply put it's an absolute must. It separates the good from the great and the elite from everyone else.
Our 1-1 mindset program is all about practical wrestling specific exercises wrestlers can do to improve their mindset. Here are 10 practical ways to build confidence:
1. Make a list of all the times you have succeeded on the mat (i.e. best wins, practices, etc.). Confidence is all about what you focus on so start focusing on your successes. Wrestlers are often critical to a fault. You'd be surprised how many good wrestlers stink at focusing on their success list. When they do they can reach the next level faster.
2. Make a list of elite wrestlers who use the same technique as you. It is imperative to believe in your technique especially during difficult times.
3. Improve your body language before matches and practices. Find out what confidence looks like to you (everyone is different) and use that body language before/during practices and matches. You will start to feel more confident.
4. Create a Confidence Anchor. A bit more psychological here. When you feel confident do some physical gesture (i.e. hang clap, pump fist, etc). Then start using this before matches and whenever you want to feel more confidence. Good old fashioned classical conditioning.
5. Visualize yourself succeeding. Use every sense you can. Don't just visualize winning, but the whole process of a match and wrestling tournament. Visualize yourself overcoming fears.
6. Make a list of your best qualities. In wrestling, in school and life in general. What are you good at? The more fresh these qualities are in your mind the more confident you will feel.
7. Pray and read Scripture. This should be number one because it will help you in every area of your life. Confident people know what they believe in. When your faith grows your confidence will grow as well.
8. Make a small goal everyday that you can accomplish. When you see yourself achieving these small goals each day your confidence will grow.
9. Create a highlight tape of yourself. Watch yourself in your best matches regularly. See yourself executing technique and dominating matches. This is like visualization on steroids.
10. Do something better than anyone you will wrestle. Ben Askren did a study of NCAA champs. One thing they all had in common is that they each believed they possessed some skill better than anyone they wrestled. It may or may not have been true but each believed it. It could be a single technique, physical or mental attribute. What do you do better than everyone?
*** 11. Do something other people aren't doing. Whether its running, starting a nutrition program, going to bed early every night, daily mindset training, jump rope, etc. When you are doing things that others aren't willing to do consistently you will undoubtedly build confidence.
***** 12. Book your Free Mindset Session Today!
The First Step to Build Mental Toughness
Coaches often talk about putting their athletes through intense workouts to build Mental Toughness. I am a firm believer in that but there is a step that may precede that.
This is something I learned by studying the greatest warriors of all time. Most of us look at groups like the Spartans, Navy Seals, Samurai, and Aztecs as quintessential examples of Mental Toughness. What do they all have in common?
All of these Mentally Tough groups are crystal clear on what they believe and what they stand for. They believe in different things and have different codes but they all live by it and are willing to die for it.
Watch some great examples here
This sounds very extreme. But Mental Toughness at its highest levels are extreme. Think of the toughest people you know mentally. I bet that they have a great understanding of what they believe about the world and a strong code/values that they live by. They may be different from your beliefs but mentally tough people have them.
Wrestlers that I looked up to as mentally tough role models (Brands brothers, John Smith, Cael Sanderson) and current wrestlers (Jordan Burroughs, Tony Ramos, Brent Metcalf) I believe to be mentally tough are all very clear about their values and what they believe about the world.
For some people it is their Faith, for others their Country, and for some it is their Legacy, Family or something else. The more authentic and the clearer their understanding of what they believe in, the easier it is to hold firm to when times are tough and things aren't going their way.
This is a core principle of Mental Toughness: enduring hardships and persevering.
If you KNOW what you believe and are willing to live and even die by it, a gray world becomes more black and white. Decisions and daily choices are more straightforward and you will be able to dig deeper than you ever imagined.
Mindset assignment: Take some time this week to determine what you believe about the world. What are your values and what do you stand for? Determine your code for living and training.
Once completed it's time to begin your Mindset Training with other exercises like this
1. You agree that the sport is at least 50% mental. Any high level wrestler, coach or parent will tell you that wrestling is at least 50% mental. Usually the number is much higher. So why aren't you directly training your mindset?
2. You do not get better at math by studying English. If there is a weakness you need to address it head on. Working harder isn't going to help you Relax under Pressure, Pull the Trigger and Develop the Killer Instinct. These things need to be addressed head on.
3. The top college and HS teams & wrestlers are training their mindset. This season alone over 20 teams used Wrestling Mindset including Iowa State, Michigan, Edinboro, Division II NCAA Champs St. Cloud State, Rutgers, Maryland, Bergen Catholic, etc.
4. Gone are the days of general Sport Psychology. Let's face it no one understands the unique struggles of a wrestler better than former high level wrestlers. Wrestling Mindset is made by wrestlers for wrestlers. You will learn from someone who has been in your shoes and who understands the mindset it takes to be successful.
5. Mindset training will benefit you for the rest of your life on and off the mat. Physical training has some benefits but training your mindset will benefit you in all areas- wrestling, school, career, personal relationships and on and on. Train your Mindset consistently and you will become a better more fulfilled person.
When I was a young wrestler I learned a great piece of advice from one of my coaches and mentors Donn Ernst. Always learn from the very best. Stop following your friends, your teammates, or even the best in the state. Look to the best wrestlers in the world.
Jake Herbert is without a doubt one of the best wrestlers in the world.
6 great Mindset Tips from his short interview after winning the US Open
1. You have to believe you are going to win it. They asked if he was surprised that he won. He said no, you have to believe you are going to win.
2. You got to have a plan and a systematic approach to your training. Going through the motions isn't going to cut it. Your training needs to be planned out and approached systematically.
3. You have to fail many times before having success. They asked about his 4 point move in the finals. He said that it worked because he failed it many times in practice.
4. You gotta love what you do. He said that loves that he gets to go out on a Saturday night and do what he loves. Gotta love wrestling!!
5. Seeds mean nothing! Jake was preseeded 10th. You can't care about that. It's just a number (kind of like his age).
6. Always be on the attack. He talks about attacking attacking attacking. You can't be satisfied with a lead. You have to keep attacking!
Watch the Jake Herbert Flo interview here
Read the interview we had with our Mindset Coach Dave Zabriskie, former NCAA Champion and Olympic hopeful.
What percent of wrestling would you say is mental?
I think wrestling is at least 50% mental. Knowing you can win and having confidence in
your ability goes a long way.
What is your Mental Edge or what sets your mindset apart from others?
One thing that I think sets me apart from other wrestlers is being able to maintain my
composure in matches regardless of the situation.
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,
I like to try to stay calm and I always visualize winning and how I want to win.
What mentally prepared you most/ improved your confidence/ relaxed you?
Reflecting back on my training and everything I’ve done to prepare for a match.
Which coaches/ people influenced your mindset most? Why?
Cael Sanderson and Tim Hartung. Cael helped keep me stay calm and confident during
high stress times and Tim Hartung just helped me become flat out tough and pushed
me to my breaking point.
What mental mistakes did you make early in your career? What would you do
When I first started wrestling I was intimidated by someone else credentials and that
would always set me back a little. Once I learned I could keep up with them, wrestling
guys who were “better than” me enabled me too wrestle harder and not concede.
What mental mistakes are most common even at the highest level?
I think letting the fact that you might not be competing at 100% percent bother you is a
mistake on every level.
What are your favorite motivational quotes, movies, songs, etc?
Cinderella Man is one of my favorite motivational movies. A great example of finding the
right motivation to become a champion.
What are your key philosophies for consistently high performance?
Train smarter, not harder.
What other wrestlers have a great mindset and why?
Another wrestler that has a great mindset is a guy that I train with, Robert Hamlin. I
swear he doesn’t let anything phase him. Regardless of the situation of how he feels he
gives 100% every time he trains and competes.
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