The Wrestling Mindset of Foxcatcher: 10 Lessons from Mark Schultz’s book Foxcatcher
My coach Donn Ernst always told me, “you have to study the best in the world.” Mark Schultz is, without a doubt, one of the greatest wrestlers and competitors of all time. The same can be said of his brother Dave, whose status is nothing less than legendary.
Mark Schultz’s book Foxcatcher (the story that inspired the movie) has many Wrestling Mindset gems. Here are some I found:
1. Mark focused on things that gave him a competitive edge over his opponents. For him, this included gymnastics, extra workouts, emotionally detaching himself, and his willingness to subject himself to a hellish training schedule.
What are some of your competitive edges over your competition?
2. Mark had a Higher Purpose. “I didn’t get into wrestling to win medals…the sport provided the way for me to become a great fighter. I wanted to fight and defeat the best wrestlers in the world.” That is a powerful WHY.”
What is your purpose for wrestling (your Why)?
3. Mark was ALL IN. “I committed to train as hard as I could, even if it killed me. That’s no exaggeration.”
What would you have to do to be all in?
4. Mark knew how to flip the switch. “I wore that sweatshirt every day, and pulling it over my head was like flipping a switch that transformed me into the person I was trying to become: confident and at ease with myself.”
How will you flip your switch?
5. Mark viewed cutting weight differently than others. He believed cutting weight can, “grates on you mentally...can ruin the sport for you.” He believed to determine his ideal weight class he, “worked out hard and then dropped to the next lowest weight.”
Are you cutting too much weight?
6. Mark had clarity with his technique. He wrote down moves he would use in each position he could be in inside his “wrestling notebook.” He, “re-read his notebook until I memorized every note on the page. I would decide how to finish before I shot so there would be no hesitation.”
Are you clear on your technique or do you second guess yourself?
7. Mark made himself mentally tough. “I would never be the first to say ‘I’m done’…I’d secretly get one extra workout in every day.”
What are you physically doing on a regular basis to make yourself mentally tough?
8. Mark emotionally detached himself from others during competition. During the Olympics, he “ignored much of what was going on around him.” When his brother Dave got upset in the NCAA finals right before his match, Mark told himself that he, “couldn’t let the shock of Dave’s loss get to me.” He didn’t add pressure to himself by thinking about the team score- “It was me against my opponent. That’s all I cared about.”
Are you adding pressure to yourself by thinking too much about the team score?
9. Mark focused on one match at a time. “I focused solely on my first match, not even taking a look beyond that match on my bracket sheet. For as long as I kept advancing through the tournament, I would continue to look only to my next opponent, That’s a trick I used throughout my career to help keep me completely in the present.”
Do you look ahead in your brackets?
10. Mark focused on living totally in the present moment. He learned,” dying to the past every moment..life began anew every second.” This helped him get through hard training.
Are you dead to the past?
These quotes are taken from the book Foxcatcher and used by the permission of the man himself- Mark Schultz. A very special thank you to him from providing all of us with insight into the Wrestling Mindset of a Champion!
Note- Mark’s book is far more than this list. It is a well told, emotionally gripping story. This book provides much more information and accuracy than the movie. I strongly recommend you do both- watch the movie and right now buy Mark Schultz book Foxcatcher here:
I got a chance to watch a lot of wrestling this weekend between the Beast of the East and Grapple at the Garden. Several of our teams and wrestlers competed in each and it was great to see them get after it.
Two themes that my brother and I have been talking a lot about the last few weeks were evident at both competitions:
1. Too many wrestlers are afraid to lose or make mistakes. They are wrestling not to lose rather than competing to win. It sounds similar but it is very different. When you wrestle not to lose you see a lot of conservative wrestling, few risks, hesitation and bluntly scared wrestlers. This is a mindset issue and needs to be addressed. One thing the greatest warriors of all time (Spartans, Samurai, Navy Seals, Aztecs, etc) have in common is that they were not afraid to die in battle. Thankfully in wrestling we don't have to worry about dying a painful death, however, we must learn the approach of these warriors and throw out the fear of losing. Immediately you become a more fierce competitor when you throw out the fear of losing and making mistakes. When you wrestle to win you get after it, take chances, and are willing to throw the kitchen sink at your opponent. This is a much more dangerous and dreadful opponent. Wrestle to win regardless of your opponent!
2. Wrestlers need to develop more Clarity in their technique. You shake hands and the whistle blows. Where are you putting your hands? What is your dominant tie up and your "Go To" shot? Wrestlers spend so much time drilling and learning technique from coaches, videos, camps, teammates, etc. Unfortunately so much time goes wasted drilling things we never have or never will use. I made this mistake most of my career. Think of some of the best wrestlers- John Smith, Jordan Burroughs, Cael Sanderson, David Taylor, Ed Ruth, Logan Stieber. These guys are scoring most of their takedowns with the same one or two moves. The same goes with top and bottom. Stop drilling moves you will never use! This is a waste of time and slows you down in matches. Many wrestlers this weekend were moving around aimlessly and reacting instead of imposing their will. A big problem a lot of our wrestlers have is that they are thinking too much once the whistle blows. Most times its because they are unsure of their dominant tie up or takedown. The same thing goes for top and bottom. Develop clarity in the common positions of wrestling (i.e. first move on top/bottom, mat return, leg defense). You will be much more efficient with your time, think less on the mat, appear much faster, and score more points.
Who: ALL are welcome on the call for FREE! Compliments of Wrestling Mindset
What: Tonight's topic- The Most Important Mindset Exercise of your Career! 15 min talk, 15 min Q&A. Have a notebook!
When: Every Monday (TONIGHT!!) 9pm EST
How: Dial in at 712-432-3900 access code 385885#.
Why: Every Wrestler, Coach & Parent should actively train his/her Mindset to help bring out your best.
Key points of Wrestling Mindset program:
***This is the ONLY Wrestling Specific Mindset Training out there. It is made by nationally ranked D1 wrestlers who understand the unique struggles of wrestling
***It is a SYSTEMATIC program- Strength training for the Mind. It is NOT therapy! This is a system of hands on worksheets (exercises, activities, and challenges) to improve each wrestler's mindset
***This is the same program being used by high level wrestlers and teams.
College teams- Iowa State, Michigan, UPenn, Rutgers, Maryland, Hofstra, Tennessee Chattanooga, VMI, wrestlers from Cornell, Bucknell, North Carolina, NC State, Princeton, Sacred Heart, NYU and others.
HS teams- 4 NJ state championship teams last season: Bergen Catholic, Paulsboro, St Augustine, Howell
Wrestlers learn more and sign up here- http://www.wrestlingmindset.com/wrestlers.html
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Every time you step on the wrestling mat you should state out loud the following Mindset Principles. Beat these principles into your head. You will be better, tougher and happier because of it.
Words to live by, train by, and compete by.
1. I am thankful for the opportunity to wrestle.
(Never take for granted your healthy mind and body, many people don't have this. Visit any hospital and start being thankful)
2. I am aggressive and relentless.
(The best wrestlers take the most chances and keep going and going. For evidence watch Logan Stieber run a bar or Nashon Garrett attack a cross wrist tilt)
3. I have NO fear of losing or making mistakes.
(Samurai, Spartans & Aztecs, some of the great all time warriors were not afraid to die. If they could get past the fear of dying a potentially painful death you can get over the fear of losing)
4. I never ever give up.
(The only failure is giving up. It is difficult to beat a guy who never quits. Winning or Losing always fight till the final whistle. Redefine success as never ever giving up.)
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