My brothers Gene, Greg, and I had the opportunity to wrestle and have lunch with 2x NCAA Champion, Olympian, and Undefeated Bellator Champion Ben Askren. We discussed his Mental approach to the wrestling and MMA and what he believes separates him and other champions from the competition. Here are some Mental tips and common Mindset themes that Ben talked about:
1. Top wrestlers/fighters strongly BELIEVE that they are the best in some area of their sport. Ben did a study of NCAA Champs dating back to the 1950s to determine common themes in champions. Whether its athleticism, technique, FUNK/Scrambling, Strength, or another attribute they deep down believe that no one matches them in this area. Ben noted that it’s not necessarily 100% true or in some cases not even close to true, but the important commonality is that the NCAA Champions BELIEVED they were the best in the country or world in this particular area. Have FAITH & BELIEVE!
2. Top wrestlers LOVE to wrestle and practice. Out of all the NCAA Champs Ben interviewed all but one said that they loved to go to practice. Not only did they love to win but they LOVE to train and practice. As we have noted before, one of the conditions of the Flow State is Enjoyment. If you don’t love what you do, you will never reach your full potential and achieve this Flow State. “A warrior does not give up what he loves, he finds the love in what he does” -Peaceful Warrior.
3. Keep a beginner’s Mindset. The best wrestler’s and athletes are always willing to learn. Ben said that he learned a move yesterday from Apex Coach Damion Logan, which he is immediately adding to his arsenal. He thinks that keeping an open mind has helped separate him from other competitors who are set in their ways and unwilling to evolve and learn. This goes along with one of our Pillars of Success- Constant Improvement. Whatever level you are at I know one thing; you need to get better! Otherwise, someone else will and they will eventually beat you. Improve in some aspect of your life every day- Technically, Mentally, Physically, Spiritually, Nutritionally, Socially, etc.
4. Don’t be afraid to put it on the line. Champions are Fearless in their pursuit of Greatness. Ben said he was never afraid to lose and always was up for challenges. He wanted to wrestler better competition and go to the best tournaments growing up. There is a FloWrestling interview after the Askren/Herbert Super Match. He said what makes both of them successful is that they were both willing to put it on the line and risk losing. Often times when young wrestlers get their first taste of success, they begin to feel like they have something to lose now when they compete. This adds pressure and often they will avoid challenges and matches that will make them better competitors in the long run. Ben says and proves that he is not afraid to put it on the line and risk losing. Champions detach themselves from the outcome and know that these constant battles and challenges are what makes you a better competitor and a true champion on and off the mat.