One of the most important questions for a wrestler has began to surface- What weight class should I wrestle at this season? This is not only important for the wrestler’s success this season. It goes way beyond and will effect not only his/her performance, but can shape the wrestler’s long term feelings for the sport of wrestling.
Not happy/confident at a weight class= Underperformance= Negative thoughts about Wrestling= Plateauing or Worse
Wrestlers and Coaches need to be extremely careful at this junction each season. So should you compete up a weight class or cut that extra 5-10 lbs. to make the lower weight class. From a Mindset standpoint of course the answer depends.
The important question is- What does this depend on? It really depends on each wrestler’s thoughts and feelings about competing at a certain weight class. For instance, if your wrestler is considering dropping down a weight class and is saying things like- I am going to be bigger and stronger than my opponents. I will be able to execute my technique better, no one will be able to stop me. If your wrestler talks like this, get them on a solid Nutrition Plan because they are ready for the descent.
On the other hand if the wrestler has thoughts like- I am going to be miserable all season, I won’t have energy in the third period, then its time to consider wrestling up a weight class. Remember, this may not only effect the current season but the rest of their career in the sport of wrestling. Our first goal MUST be for Wrestlers to enjoy Wrestling.
Similarly, if a wrestler going up in weight class is constantly thinking- I am too small for this weight class, these guys are way stronger, I can’t control my tie ups, then I would consider having them drop down a weight class. If they are optimistic in going up a weight class thinking- I am faster than my opponents, my conditioning will win me matches, no one can stay with me for 6 or 7 minutes- then the wrestler is likely to perform at a higher level at this weight class. Our thoughts and feeling towards our weight class are vitally important, so DO NOT ignore them.
In the case that your wrestler has only one weight class option (for Team reasons), coaches MUST understand their wrestler’s feelings towards competing at that weight class. If they are even a little negative or combative about cutting down or bumping up a weight, they will without a question need to allocate a SIGNIFICANT amount of time Mental Training. I have seen WAY TOO MANY wrestlers begin to perform poorly or EVEN WORSE hate the sport because they are pressured or forced to wrestle a weight class that they do not want to compete at.
The Mental Training areas that are essential in these cases, which Wrestling Mindset focuses on are Enjoyment, Confidence, and Focus. The goal is to get wrestlers to first enjoy competing at their weight class, then become Confident at the weight class, and lastly learn to focus and stay focused through the ups and downs of the season.
Bottom line, you MUST be confident competing at a given weight class. If not you MUST train your Mind to get there.
My Anecdotal Evidence:
My HS and college career taught me a lot about this and my mental training has enlightened me as to why. I began HS as an undersized 103 lber (92 lbs to be exact). In college I wrestled 174 lbs my senior season (still wasn’t the biggest for my weight class). In HS, I focused too much on being too small and too weak for the weight class. I blamed losses on this and it negatively impacted my first two seasons. In college, I looked at being a “smaller 174 lber” as an advantage. I knew I would be faster than my opponents, I would be able to outlast them later in the second and third periods, and I was convinced that my opponents couldn’t level change nearly as quickly as me. I had a much more successful season wrestling at 174 than I did at 103. On the other end of the spectrum, I was a HUGE 119 lber (about 5-9 & under 4% body fat) my senior year of HS cutting over 20 lbs. My constant thoughts were- No one could stop my technique- I was too long and strong for anyone to slow me down. I used my tremendous weight cut to my advantage and was quite successful. I attribute this mainly to my positive Weight Class Mindset.