As the postseason begins, it becomes increasingly important that wrestlers improve daily in all areas. Although we have stressed the importance of doing everything right, we can still make improvements.
As mentioned at every practice and in past newsletters, proper diet and nutrition is absolutely critical. When you manage your weight correctly, you are able to go into the practice room with one goal: preparation. When we manage our weight poorly, we use practice time for weight loss, which limits our ability to prepare. Poorly-managed weight is a source of stress and again takes the focus off of preparation. If you want to be at your best, proper diet and nutrition is a must. Another key aspect to performing your best is getting plenty of rest so your body can recover. A wrestler must not over train at this time of year because the reality is that feeling fresh and excited to compete is more important than one extra drill or run. I am NOT saying we should not train or prepare intensely; what I’m saying is that we need to be sure that our bodies and minds are properly rested.
The next area I would like to reinforce is focusing on the things you can control. I sent out an article on this very topic a couple of weeks ago. I urge you to do this and to make every effort not to be distracted with things out of your control. At this point, we should simply be focusing on our preparations, as well as our diet and recovery as mentioned above; we can control these things. In competition we can control our intensity and we can control our attitude. We can control constantly trying to score the next point. We can control trying to dominate every opponent that we wrestle. These are the things we should be focusing on, and these are the things that will give us the greatest chance to win. Of all the things that we can control, keeping our composure may very well be the most important. We cannot control the referee, the crowd, or anything that we perceive as unfair such as a bad call, so letting them distract us can’t happen. Constantly working to score and not getting flustered or discouraged when we are behind is imperative. If we are focused, we can continue to score and wrestle, but as soon as we begin to focus on things out of our control, scoring becomes much more difficult.
Technically it is important to focus on your strengths since that is where you are going to score most often against your toughest opponents.
Fine tuning your best setups and finishes, your favorite turns, and the core techniques from bottom is priority. Anything that you can’t use to score on good people with does not need to be drilled or worked on this time of year. When the season is over wrestlers can resume adding and learning different techniques but for now focusing on what you do best will yield much better results. Another aspect all wrestlers must be very aware of is any major weaknesses that they may have. If you are consistently getting stuck or scored on in certain positions then you need to work hard to improve in these areas every day. If you have lost matches due to not being able to finish shots, get off the bottom, or any other reason that you will be in again you have to address it and take steps to correct it.
Another area that cannot be overlooked is the importance of mental and physical toughness. The very best wrestlers are mentally tough: they do not give points away and they do not give in at any time. They are constantly fighting as hard as they can in every situation for every point. They put forth the maximum effort at all times. In the postseason where there are many top competitors and tight matches, the person who puts out the greatest effort typically is the one who wins. It is absolutely critical that we are willing to work harder than our opponents in the practice room and fight harder for our points in competition. This is a must. The only way to beat someone who may be better than you is to outwork them and be tougher than they are in every area. Make a commitment to always work harder than your opponent and, no matter what happens, to always have the toughness to persevere in difficult situations.
I realize this article is basically a summary of the things that we have discussed often over the past few weeks. I also realize that many of you have heard these things from me for years, but now more than ever is the time to buy into all of it. Proper diet, plenty of rest, focused preparation, wrestling with intensity, being tough, and keeping your composure are all things that matter, and they are within your control. No matter what you have done in the past in all of these areas, you can still do better and you can still improve. The wrestlers who reach their fullest potential in the coming weeks, months, and years are the ones that will do absolutely everything that is necessary to improve and to win.