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!
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