Imagine, as a student, that one day you walk into class and find out that it is now your job to teach the class. It would be uncomfortable, right? However, provided you don’t quit going to that class altogether, it would progressively grow more normal to be teaching the class. This is an example of expanding your comfort zone. You took something that was familiar to you, being a student, and did something that was new and uncomfortable, teaching, until it became common and comfortable. Now, you are comfortable with both teaching and being a student. This concept of expanding your comfort zone can be used as a means of improving your mental toughness in wrestling.
Personally, I started out high school one of the bigger guys in the smallest weight class. It was rare that I wrested people bigger than me, but when I hit a growth spurt and bumped up a few weight classes, I started to wrestle lots of people bigger and stronger than me. Wrestling people bigger and stronger than myself became a mental block for me, and it took time to acclimate myself before feeling comfortable in the weight class.
Think about when you first started learning to scramble. When you are drilling, everything is perfect. It isn’t until you start wrestling live in practice or in matches that you encountered those awkward positions. But, the more that you put yourself in those awkward positions, those same positions become more commonplace and less awkward. Watch great scramblers when they wrestle. Wrestlers like Yianni Diakomihalis, Frank Chamizo, Jordan Burroughs, and Seth Gross never look uncomfortable in any position no matter how awkward the position may seem. This comfort with the uncomfortable is because they have expanded their comfort zones by being willing to put themselves in awkward positions.
Expanding your comfort zone is a key component for helping you develop confidence in your wrestling. Without doing this, it would be easy to develop a mental block anytime you encounter any circumstance that is less than perfect. Unfortunately, it is rare that you ever have a perfect situation. You will have to wrestle people that are good scramblers and will put you in weird positions. You will wrestle people that are bigger, stronger, faster, or more experienced than yourself. There will even be unavoidable situations that will prevent you from being ready to wrestle. For example, you may have to go to the bathroom and are unable to do your full pre-match routine. If you have been able to expand your comfort zone by putting yourself in potentially uncomfortable situations in practice, workouts, and everyday life you can have confidence going into matches even though the circumstances are not perfect!
We spend a lot of time focusing on knowing yourself as a wrestler. It is vital for you to understand where you are strong and where you feel comfortable.
For example, what ties do you feel comfortable in, what are your go to shots in the third period, what is your favorite setup, what are your go to moves on top, and the list goes on.
Knowing yourself as a wrestler allows you to feel more confident going into matches as well as allowing yourself to focus on what you are going to do rather than what your opponent is going to do.
The concept of self-knowledge is closely related to the concept of a predator-prey mindset. If you recall, predators are focused on what they do while the prey is focused on everyone and everything else.
As it applies to wrestling, the predator wrestler is focused on what he or she does best, and the prey wrestler is focused on what other wrestlers are going to do. Without adequate knowledge of yourself, it is impossible to have a predator mindset.
How can you focus on your offense, your shots, and your setups if you don’t know your best offense, shots, and ties? Without proper knowledge of yourself you are forced to have the prey mindset and focus on what other wrestlers are doing.
In our podcast with Dan Dennis, Dennis talked about that no matter who in the world he was wrestling, no matter how good they were, he was comfortable in a two on one tie. That is the benefit of self-knowledge.
We place an emphasis on self-knowledge because when you understand your best positions, you can have confidence in your abilities and your capacity to beat anyone.
When you understand the areas where you are strong you can focus on getting to your best positions rather than worrying about your opponent’s best positions, and you can wrestle YOUR match!
1.) Make A Goal That Scares You.
Making a goal that is too small or “reasonable” is just another way of settling. Do not settle! Whatever your goal is, whether it is winning a state title, a national title, or even breaking into the starting lineup, your goal should scare you. If it doesn’t scare you then it is too small.
2.) Create A Goal That Is Meaningful To You.
Do not set a goal for yourself that you are not passionate about. You are just setting yourself up to fail. If you are going to accomplish a worthwhile goal, then it has to be something that you are motivated to do. Without that motivation and passion you are not going to be able to put in the work that needs to be done, and you will be miserable. Make sure that your goals are meaningful to you!
3.) Write Your Goal Down.
If your goal is nothing more than a mental agreement that you make with yourself, then it is too easy to make adjustments to that goal or eliminate the goal altogether.
For example, if your goal is to win a national title, but you have a bad practice and get taken down by everyone in the room, it is way too easy to reset your sights to just placing at a national tournament or believing that you never had a chance to win that title in the first place. But, if your goal is written down it is much more permanent, and not so easily changed or eliminated. Moreover, write it down multiple times and cement it in your head. It is much harder to ease up on your goal after you have written it down hundreds of times.
4.) Put Your Goal Where You Are Constantly Going to See It.
As a student athlete, you have so many things that are competing for your attention. Do not let those things get in the way of you accomplishing your goal. Putting your goal down in a place where you will be able to see it constantly will help you to stay focused and motivated to reach your goal.
5.) Let Other People Know About Your Goal.
This goes back to the principle of accountability. There are simply going to be days where you doubt your ability to reach your goal, and it can be so easy to let yourself off the hook. The right people in your life can help you to stay focused and motivated when times are tough.
We live in a society that makes us want some sort of instant gratification. As technology expands, we tend to get spoiled. We want things now. However, it is important that we separate that kind of mentality from wrestling.
With wrestling, the growth that you experience is going to take time, and that is what we have expressed through the concept of jumping levels.
If you recall, jumping levels represents a constant growth. You are putting in the work all of the time. You need to constantly be looking to improve regardless of your level of success, and if you don’t, people are going to surpass you.
Cael Sanderson, the legend himself, said, “Unless you continually work, evolve, and innovate, you will learn a quick and painful lesson from someone who has.” That is the mentality that you have to have in order to wrestle.
Getting better will not happen over night, and while you are continually growing, you may not always be able to see the fruits of your labor. It may take patience to actually start to see that the work you are putting in is paying off.
However, being patient to improve can be a frustrating thing to do considering we are in a society where we are constantly looking for a fast solution. Well, in wrestling, that fast solution does not exist. But, don’t be discouraged because it is all a matter of perspective when it comes to the work that you are doing. While you could view it as discouraging or annoying that you have to spend so much time and do so many repetitions in order to improve, you could view it as an great opportunity that you get to do all of those repetitions and spend that time.
For example, it is not that you have to drudge through hundreds and thousands of shots, set-ups, escapes, etc, it is that you continually get to work at fine tuning your shots, set-ups, escapes, etc. so that you can be confident in a match.
Wrestling has to be a passion of yours. It is too difficult of a sport to expect to notice growth without being all in. You are always able to improve. You are always able to jump to that next level, and that should be a source of inspiration.
If wrestling is a passion of yours, you should not view the time it takes to get better as annoying or even something that you have to do. When you start to think of wrestling as something that you get to do, it will be easier and maybe even natural to constantly want to put in that necessary hard work to improve.
Don’t look for that quick fix and cut corners. Be passionate, patient, and enjoy the progression!
MISS A MINDSET MONDAY CALL?