The postseason tournaments are here and I want to remind everyone to enjoy the experience and make the most of your opportunities. Too often athletes, coaches, and parents get stressed and tense heading into these events because of how “big” we think the tournament is. We need to remember and remind the wrestlers that this is still just a wrestling tournament: you wrestle on the same size mat, points are still scored the same way, you only wrestle one opponent at a time, etc. Of course we want each wrestler to perform their very best, and one way to help them do that is allowing them to focus on the performance and not be overly stressed about winning. One of the worst things we can do as parents or coaches is to stress the kids out about their weight or what they should be doing, overanalyzing opponents, etc. My suggestion is to use lots of positive talk about what they have done well and reflect on the reasons they deserve to succeed.
Wrestlers should focus on what they did to be prepared. Reminding themselves of all the reasons they deserve to WIN is a positive exercise that puts them in the right frame of mind. When they reflect on things that are in their control and activities they did to put themselves in a position to succeed, they increase their confidence and minimize stress. Examples are below, but any positive thoughts can be included.
- I trained extra all season.
- I am focused on my goals and have a plan to achieve them.
- My conditioning is great.
- I work harder than my opponents.
- I have gotten the first takedown in almost every match this season.
- I have pinned over half my opponents this season.
- I feel fresh and I am hungry to achieve.
- I always wrestle well at the end of the season.
- I have great support from my parents.
- I have coaches that have prepared me to succeed.
Below is an excerpt from an article with some tips on visualization that may also be helpful. Like any other skill, the more you work on your mental skills the more effective they will be.
Visualize Your WIN
Visualization is a very effective technique used by athletes in many sports and is very beneficial to wrestlers. In essence, visualization is when you picture or imagine yourself performing specific actions successfully. You will commonly hear coaches tell their wrestlers to “go through the match” in their head, which is simply visualization. Below is an example of how a wrestler may visualize his match:
- Get comfortable: Start by going through the entire sequence of tasks that you must COMPLETE in order to start the match. These are typically checking in at the scoring table, putting on your anklet, shaking hands with your opponent, etc. Visualize this entire procedure.
- Picture the match: Then, think about your first actions once the referee blows his whistle to signal the start of the match. Picture how you will move, how you will set up your takedowns, what you will do when chain wrestling, etc. Essentially, “wrestle the match in your head” by playing out all of the different possibilities and scenarios that will lead you to victory.
- Positive reinforcement: Be confident when visualizing all of the techniques you will hit.
One way to do this is by replaying or remembering previous times that you’ve successfully COMPLETED a specific move or action. For example, if you want to visualize shooting a high crotch and then changing over to a double leg, think of all of the times in your matches when you hit the move perfectly.
You can also picture yourself drilling the move perfectly during practice. Remembering past success will not only prepare you mentally to hit the move when you see an opening for it, but it will also boost your confidence before the match