I was an undersized 103 lber my sophomore year weighing a whopping 98 lbs. I was 15 years old never before entering the New Jersey state tournament, even the kids state tournament. These were my initial thoughts going into the tournament. Suffice it to say, I did not have the ideal mindset to start with.

Then after winning the regions the state brackets were released.

I was set to face an undefeated wrestler who had pinned me in the past (although it was over a year ago). In my mind all I thought about was- the kid is strong, aggressive, undefeated and seeded higher than me. I remember reading articles about him dominating his competition in the shore conference. In other words, I made my opponent into a monster.

During the match with “the monster” I wrestled tentatively (not my style) and was taken down immediately to my back. He racked up a ton of early points. As the match progressed I began to “just wrestle” instead of wrestling my opponents name and past successes. I fought back scoring 6 points late in the match. It was too little too late. I vividly remember thinking during the match “I could of beat this kid if I didn’t give him so much respect.”

Lessons learned:

(1) Stop thinking about your negatives and start focusing on your positives. I focused too much on being small for the weight and being young for my grade. It would have benefited me to think about the positives of my situation- I didn’t have to cut any weight, I was quicker, and better conditioned).

(2) Focus on what YOU do well not on what your opponent does well. I focused on my opponent being strong, aggressive, and all of his accolades. Focus instead on your strengths. I was aggressive too and very technical but I was too busy focusing on my opponent to use that to my advantage.

(3) Never wrestle a name or ranking. The higher ranked wrestler doesn’t get spotted points and can’t bring his medals on the mat with him. When I started to “just wrestle” I gave myself the best chance to compete well.

(4) Never give an opponent too much respect. I directly violated Mental Mistake #4 (www.wrestlingmindset.com/blog–news/top-10-mental-mistakes-wrestlers-make-corrections). No one is unbeatable! Always begin with the premise that the guy across from you can and will be beaten.