What a week of Olympic wrestling! It is truly a pleasure watching the best in the world battle each other to achieve their wrestling dreams. Working with the Women’s Olympic team this year, it was great seeing them compete fearlessly and watching Helen Maroulis win in one of the greatest “upsets” of all time. Of course, it wasn’t an upset in her mind because she believed she was going to win! We also got to watch Kyle Snyder win Gold during my son’s Baptism party. What a day!
I wanted to provide some common themes that we noticed among Olympic champions:
1. They are thankful for the opportunity to wrestle. Not a coincidence that this is Wrestling Mindset Principle #1. If you listen to nearly any Kyle Snyder interview he talks about this. Helen Maroulis is no different. She talks about the joy of competing regardless of outcome.
2. Their faith is an integral part of their lives. Hassan Yazdani says a prayer immediately after winning Gold, Helen Maroulis reads through some of the Bible verses she repeats before matches, Kyle Snyder and Jordan Burroughs are both very open about their faith and how it gives them the proper perspective to be at peace before matches.
3. They have a high power offense. In football they say Defense wins championships. I think the opposite is true in wrestling. Of course defense is very important, but the Olympic Gold medalists are more know for their high power offenses. Go through the list- Sadulaev, Ramonov, Akgul, Snyder, Yazdani, Maroulis, etc. They all have phenomenal footwork and leg attacks. They are noticeably more offensive then their opponents in almost every match. They look to keep scoring points! John Smith talked about this constantly as he was announcing the Olympics.
4. They were not all over social media or caught in the fan mentality. Helen and Kyle do a good job of this. They were not focused on social media or being a fan at the Olympics. They focused on taking care of business. You cannot be both a spectator and competitor. You need to focus all of your efforts on wrestling your best. John Smith talks about this in this Shane Sparks interview loaded with mindset advice.
I will conclude with a Helen Maroulis quote which touches on all these keys to Olympic success:
“I didn’t come here to win a gold medal for the media attention,” she said. “I didn’t come here to win a gold medal in order to find something within myself or some peace within myself. I found that self-worth before I stepped on the mat. I think that’s why I won the gold medal.”
“Yesterday was about stepping on the mat and just wrestling to the best of my ability and really taking joy in what I do. If they covered Ryan Lochte over my match, well, I think that’s a poor decision on their part, but I’m not running the show. My job is to be a wrestler, and I stepped on the mat and did what I needed to do. I’m happy with the results.”
That is the Mindset of an Olympic Champion!