The phrase “mentally tough” gets thrown around often in wrestling rooms. Coaches constantly tell you that you need to be mentally tough, and for good reason. There are so many aspects of the sport of wrestling that make it mentally stressful.
If you are not mentally tough, you will be severely limited in your success. But, saying you need to be more mentally tough without providing a means of increasing your mental toughness is like trying to squat 500 pounds without ever spending time in the rack. There has to be a method in place. One way to improve your mental toughness is to practice putting yourself in uncomfortable positions.
The idea that you should look to practice putting yourself in difficult and uncomfortable positions correlates with one of our major mindset principles. This principle being that you cannot make anything special, and you should treat your practices the same as you would treat any match. You can’t expect to improve something without working on it. It is unlikely that you’re going to be in a match or tournament and find yourself in a difficult situation and simply be able to summon some sort of mental toughness as if it were as simple as flipping a switch.
That means that you have to practice being in these difficult situations so that it is nothing new or unique when these situations arise in a match. That is what being mentally tough is. When you find yourself in a difficult position, you do not worry or create unnecessary stress. You are able to remain calm, confident, and address the issue because you know that you have already experienced adversity. So, this difficulty is nothing new.
Going forward, look to put yourself in difficult situations in practice. Remember, nothing is special. If you can’t develop mental toughness in practice situations, why would you expect to be mentally tough in a match or tournament?
Renowned hunter and long distance runner, Cameron Hanes, said that he likes to schedule his runs in the hottest part of the day to be able to add difficulty in training. Look to do things like drilling and going live goes in the room with wrestlers who are stronger, faster, and better than you.
Get in some extra push-ups, pull-ups, or sprints after practice. Don’t wrestle too conservatively. Be willing to take risks and scramble out of bad positions, and when difficult situations arrive, keep pushing!
Encountering adversity and continuing to push forward is going to improve your mental toughness and ultimately make you a better wrestler.