1. Pull the Trigger.
From the start of the tournament, I watched numerous wrestlers lose in the first rounds by not scoring the first takedown. A wrestler knocked off the defending state champ by scoring the first takedown. This puts you in the driver’s seat and makes your opponent react to you while you build confidence in your ability to score and win.
2. Importance of a pre-match routine
In the AAA state finals match at 120 lbs, a coach was quoted in the paper that his wrestler was distracted before his finals match. Having a strong pre-match routine prevents distractions helping you flip the switch of focusing on the task at hand. This gives you the confidence to wrestle your best in all situations.
3. Always being aggressive and relentless
Numerous matches were lost in the final seconds of matches because guys quit wrestling or walked back to the center not ready to wrestle. Never stop wrestling and trying to score. Continue to fight for great position and control the match rather than trying to defensively hold onto a lead.
4. Getting off the bottom
The lack of scoring off the bottom made a difference in matches as well. Guys were getting mat returned and not bouncing up. Great wrestlers have a plan of everything that can happen and how they will respond. After each match, you should use a match evaluation to make adjustments during the tournament
5. Aggressive on top
The top tier guys were the ones who were looking to turn on top and scoring back points right after takedowns to widen their leads. Don’t try to hang on and ride your opponent, that forces you to react to your opponent. Put them in danger and look for points to control the top position.
6. Coaches and parents hurting the kids mentally.
I saw many kids deal with parents or coaches in the wrong manner especially after a tough loss. Every wrestler reacts differently to feedback after a match. Parents and coaches should know what makes their wrestlers recover after a bad match or a tough loss. For some, they need to be left alone and for others, only positive feedback works. Make sure a plan has been put in place and followed throughout the year to help your wrestler recover mentally.
7. Bouncing back from a tough loss
Tough losses happened throughout the three days of wrestling in Hershey. Adversity and challenge should be expected and prepared for before a tournament. Visualizing every scenario that could happen prepares wrestlers to fight through a tough moment. After a loss, you need a short memory and short vision. Focus on the next period and wrestler, not the past loss or who you may have two rounds ahead in the tournament.
8. Handling the environment
Many wrestlers at the state tournament were there for the first time. If you treat the state tournament as special or different, your performance will suffer. Great wrestlers, such as the 182lber in AA that won his first state title, focused on what is similar about the tournament rather than what was different. No matter where you are at or how big the crowd is, the mat is the same size and the points, periods, and plan remain the same.
9. The importance of Mindset Training
At the PIAA tournament, every wrestler is primed and ready to compete. They have great technique and have beaten tough opponents to earn their berth to the tournament. The factor that allows wrestlers to wrestle consistently at their best is mental. Mental training gives wrestlers a mental edge and the preparation to have the best state tournament they are capable of.