Wrestling, like every sport, has certain rules. However, in this article I want to discuss some “unwritten” rules that may help you in your quest to become a champion.
If wrestling is your sport, these are the rules.
1. You will receive a certain amount of innate, God-given talent.
Some wrestlers have tremendous amount of natural talent. Some have less. I had a fair amount of wrestling talent in my competitive days. Wrestling came naturally to me. I understood the rules, the moves, the timing, the leverage needed in different situations, and other aspects of wrestling. However, I cannot play the piano. I don’t have the talent like Mozart. I can’t play basketball. I don’t have the talent like Michael Jordan. But, wrestling always seemed right. Guess what, though? I could get better at playing piano and at playing basketball. I would never be great, but I could definitely improve. A person can always improve their skills. That is why practicing and drilling is so important in wrestling. Even if you don’t have a lot of natural talent, you can always improve your skills. In addition, I have seen wrestlers with less talent beat more “talented” wrestlers on several occasions. Practice your skills a lot, make sure that you are in excellent physical condition, practice mental toughness, and don’t worry too much about how much so-called talent you possess.
2. You will learn moves.
Wrestling is considered to have seven basic skills. Theses skills are stance, motion, level change, penetration, lifting, back step, and back arch. However, wrestling has thousands of moves and techniques. You should learn as many moves as possible. You will learn a lot in practice. You can also learn a lot from books and videos. By watching videos you can access the knowledge of phenomenal wrestlers like Dan gable and John Smith. The Granby School of Wrestling has many great videos available. There’s no reason not to learn several moves, counter moves, and techniques. Technique is number one in a wrestling match. No matter how strong physically and mentally you may be, if you don’t have good technical skills then you will get beaten. Learn each move and then practice your moves religiously. You won’t use all of them, but you should learn several moves and counters to those moves if you expect to be a great wrestler.
3. You will receive feedback.
Your coach will, of course, give you feedback. Your teammates will give you feedback. Your family and community members may even give you feedback. Make sure you listen to them. They may be wrong, but have an open mind and at least hear them out. You will also receive feedback by simply observing how well you do in practice and in matches. Whether you win or lose, you are receiving feedback. Tony Robbins likes to say, “There is no such thing as failure. There is only feedback.” In other words, you can learn from every experience, including losing a wrestling match. The inventor Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” He also said, “Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won’t work.” Eventually, Edison would find ways that did work. You will too. Make use of the feedback you receive while engaged in the sport of wrestling and in life in general.
4. Drilling is important.
Drilling involves performing a skill repeatedly so you learn it thoroughly. You want to perfect your skills. You need to immerse yourself in drilling moves and techniques, so that they become second nature. A wrestler’s goal should be to have his skills become deeply engrained through hard drilling. Drill intensely. If your coach gives you two minutes to drill a double leg takedown with your partner, how many repetitions can you do in that time? Drilling is common in sports, the military, and many other areas of life. General George Patton had this to say during a speech to his troops in 1944, “All through your Army careers, you men have (expletive) about what you call “chicken sh*t drilling. That, like everything else in this Army, has a definite purpose. That purpose is alertness. Alertness must be bred into every soldier. I don’t give a (expletive) for a man who’s not always on his toes. You men are veterans or you wouldn’t be here. You are ready for what’s to come.” You also need to be ready for what is to come in every match. Make sure you drill.
5. You can always improve and learn more.
As I mentioned earlier, you can always improve your skills. You can often improve your conditioning level as well. There must be hundreds of ways to set up a single leg takedown. You can always learn new moves and new ways to set up moves. In addition to your coach, you can learn from camps, clinics, books, and videos. Champion golfer Seve Ballesteros said, “To give yourself the best possible chance of playing to your potential, you must prepare for every eventuality. That means practice.” Practice is incredibly important. Always be striving to improve and to learn more.
6. You must be mentally tough.
Being physically tough is only part of the equation for producing success. You need to be mentally tough as well. You need to be focused on winning your match and on nothing else. Do you get nervous, intimidated, or distracted? You can train your mind just as you train your body. Practice visualization and positive self-talk before a match. Have a plan before you step onto the mat. What moves are you planning to use? What is your strategy? If your opponent is good in the top position then you don’t want to get caught in the down position. Make sure you can stand up and escape. If your opponent likes to cradle wrestlers then you need to prepare for that. Believe in yourself and your abilities and you will do well.
7. Show respect and be respected.
Display honor, dignity, integrity, and good sportsmanship. Confidence is good, but cockiness is not. Overconfidence can be a danger as well. I had a teammate who was in a match and just stood there. He wasn’t aggressive. He didn’t respect his opponent and he thought he could just stand there and see what his opponent did. I’ll tell you what his opponent did. His opponent took him down repeatedly and soundly defeated him. Respect your coaches, your teammates, opponents, and rival schools. If you give respect, you will often receive respect. Some great wrestlers have lost matches and yet maintained their dignity by shaking hands with their opponent and then working hard to improve for the next match. Respect is important in sports and in life.
8. Success is your responsibility.
Be a self-starter and a role model. No one can make you work hard. No one can instill within you the desire to win. You have to push yourself in practice. You have to want success. Do you need to be constantly prodded by your coach? If your coach didn’t show up for practice, would you take the initiative to get practice started on your own? Or, would you just leave and forget practice? Do whine or complain in practice? Don’t. You need to be a good role model for your teammates. Nobody will simply hand you a gold medal. Nobody can practice, drill, and work out for you. Success is your responsibility.
9. Learn from others.
As I stated earlier, you can learn from coaches, camps, clinics, books, and videos. Perhaps you have a teammate who is exceptional at a certain move. Watch him closely. Ask him to show you how he does it. You can also learn much from non-wrestlers. I’ve learned new conditioning ideas from powerlifters, boxers, and mixed martial artists. I’ve learned about mental toughness from different kinds of athletes as well as from sports psychology books. I have learned from psychology, philosophy, literature, and other areas of study. I have learned things from military personnel and motivational experts. There is a wide range of people and places that can teach you much.
10. Spirit and heart are crucial to success.
Having “heart” involves displaying perseverance even when faced with difficulties or challenges. Wrestling matches are intense. Wrestling matches can be demanding physically and mentally. Do you have courage, determination, and desire? When your legs are tired and your lungs are burning in an overtime match, can you dig deep and push yourself to win? Have you ever simply given up in a match? Does fatigue crush your motivation and keep from going hard in practice? Do you want to win no matter what the obstacles you may face? Do you love wrestling or is it just an activity to pass some time? Are you motivated? Are you enthusiastic? Are you ready to put in the hard work it takes to become a champion? Boxing great Evander Holyfield said, “It is not the size of a man but the size of his heart that matters.”
I hope that these ten “rules” can help you in your quest for success.