I was a Redshirt Junior in college (UPenn) wrestling at 174 lbs. Our team wrestled Hofstra and I was wrestling the #2 ranked wrestler in the country at the time.

Things I was thinking before the match:

– My opponent was ranked #2 in the NCAA.
– He won the Southern Scuffle a few weeks before
– He beat my teammate the year before who was an All American
– He is very fast and very strong

I started the match very hesitantly, which was very uncharacteristic of me. Soon after I gave up the only takedown of the match. After the takedown, I opened up and wrestled more like myself being much more aggressive. It was too late. I lost 4-3 to a great wrestler who I “could have” beat.

Lessons learned:

1. Think about your strengths and advantages before the match. The more you think about your opponent the greater the chance you wrestle too hesitant and conservative. You need to learn strategies to make sure you are concentrating on yourself before the match and not on your opponent (his record, ranking, past wins, titles, etc.).

2. Confidence needs constant maintenance and reinforcement. It can come and go if it is not a part of your regular training. Bad practices and past losses could leave you zapped of confidence before you step on the mat at the worst possible moments. Like you drill your best takedown you need to take DAILY steps to improve confidence.