The moments before a match can be nerve wracking. All your life has accumulated to this point. Every practice, every day, every breath. Past this moment is something so incredible and terrifying: The unknown. If the whole of creation came together to tell the story of the next 6 minutes of your life, they would still get it wrong. Those next 6 minutes... it’s on you. The pressure is on.
What’s so exhilarating about any big performance is that it puts life into that perspective. It makes us face who we are, and I’ll argue that no “performance” does that more effectively than wrestling. In wrestling, you’re really against yourself on that mat; your opponent is only there to push you to excel.
You can either face yourself and become better- or try to ignore the situation and regress in your progress. Since we are all human beings, we cannot afford to miss out on the mercy and blessing of self transformation. When we transform for the better, that’s the true victory in life. That’s fulfillment. Fulfillment is being alive.
“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” - Abraham Lincoln
See this match, these feelings, and this moment as the opportunity to live a fuller life. Here are some points to help you get to that mindset.
As you go on through life, you will notice more and more folks avoid answering this question because it is a lot of hard work. Well hard work is something we wrestlers are not shy of. Take this question seriously, and don’t expect to have it all figured out in five minutes. “Why” is a lifelong pursuit that you will be revisiting again, and again, and again. Just as soon as you feel like you figured it out, BAM! Life slams you, and tests your convictions, just like in wrestling.
“Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy.” - Dan Gable
Do not be afraid to ask yourself:
Why am I going to wrestle this match?
Why am I right here? Right now?
Am I doing this for me, or is this match greater than myself?
Why is my opponent here?
Why is this match important to me?
Going through these questions will lead to thinking about your goals, and thinking about your goals will lead you to realizing what aspect of your wrestling, yourself, and your life that you have to improve on to reach those goals.
Our lives, if we’re paying attention, should be filled with lessons we’ve learned and values we’ve developed. Pop culture motivates “forgetting the past” and having no “regrets”. I strongly disagree. Remembering and regretting is the only way we’re going to stop ourselves from making the same mistakes twice. So remember:
How did you get here?
What did you do in the last practice? The last few weeks of practice?
What were your greatest victories?
What were your greatest defeats?
Your opponent is another human being just like you- nothing more...
“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” - Abraham Lincoln
Remembering will this will sharpen your focus on the task at hand, which is to wrestle your best. This kind of reflection also helps a great deal in recognizing what truly doesn’t matter: like a referee’s bad call, what negative things the crowd is yelling at you, or what kind of record your opponent has.
“A wolf in the hunt doesn’t stop to scratch fleas” - Unknown
People say it over and over, and you may be getting tired of hearing it. I’m talking about the phrase “you have to believe in yourself!" Some roll their eyes just hearing it.
The people who are telling you to believe are absolutely right, though. You must believe that you have a chance, no matter who you are and who your opponent is. Ask any coach and they’ll tell you how many matches they’ve seen that left them astonished because the wrestler they were rooting against was not supposed to win.
History has proven that morale is one of humanity's greatest weapons. I am a bit of a history geek... this list of “10 Amazing Military Victories Against The Odds” get’s me excited.
Belief is real. You just have to find it in you.
Here is an excerpt on page 174 from Dan Gable's Coaching Wrestling Successfully.
You Gotta Believe
Down by five points in the last 50 seconds of the NCAA title match, freshman Lincoln Mcllravy begins to think that the end is near. Lincoln remembers it like this: “I’m ready to quit or at least start thinking defeat, but I look over to my coaches in the corner and they’re still encouraging me to score. So I think, if they still believe I can win, why shouldn't I? After a couple of takedowns, a stalling call, and a takedown with two seconds remaining, I had come all the way back to win. My opponent had been ahead the entire match, except at the end, when it counted! I have to give my coaches the credit for believing in me when I was doubting myself.”
Watch Lincoln Mcllravy's epic comeback on the video below:
I hope that you can see now that belief is no joke. Take it seriously and it will take you above and beyond.
GET OUT THERE AND WRESTLE!
One of the greatest things a coach said to me was when I was really nervous before my first match of my senior year season. He told me that, “that nervous feeling you have is just the way your body prepares to do something incredible.”
I won that match, against a 4th place district qualifier. It was only my fourth year wrestling, and it was his sixth.
From then on, I welcomed the nervousness, the calm before the storm, like a close friend.
I hope this information has helped you begin your journey to become a better wrestler, athlete, and person for striving to do your best. If you want to access more help like this, please be sure to subscribe to the blog to not miss out on the next content.
Appreciate what we are doing with the Stand Up Wrestling Movie? Join us in defying defeat! Visit www.relationmedia.com/standup to see the film, get involved in boosting your team with our fundraising screeners, or watch all else we have to offer. See the trailer below!
Don't Stay Down.