How to be a Champion Wrestler

1) Nothing is as important as simply getting on the mat and wrestling as much as possible. If you are truly intent on being the best you can be, get on the mat EVERY chance you can get. With your team/club, someone else's team/club, camps - seek out chances to wrestle.

2) Wrestling by itself will get you better, but wrestling with focus and intent is best of all. Think about what you are doing, think about "position" (head up, knees under your chest, etc.). Work on skills, ask questions with the intent of getting better and ask aboutthings/positions you're not good at. Remember that ultimately you will need a takedown to win a big match, you will need an escape to win a big match, you will need to ride someone out to win a big match - make sure you have these abilities, if it's a weakness it WILL SHOW UP in a big match. Get better at all aspects of the sport.

3) It will take you HUNDREDS of reps of a skill before you can even begin to do it effectively in a match. It will take you THOUSANDS of reps before you can perform a skill in a match against any opponent. When I say "reps", it means only the reps where you are concentrating on perfecting the move - reps done by going through the motions don't count. So NEVER think "Oh, I know that move and then do it a few times without concentrating on making it better; work for perfection.

4) Moves don't work without a set up or don't work when you don't have that counter to your opponents counter. In higher level matches, scores come from moves performed as counters to your opponents reactions. You must have great "set ups" or a "great series" in order for moves to work against higher level opponents. If you can do both you've now entered the upper level of wrestling. Example: You circle left (set up), do a sweep single back to the right, he stops you by sprawling and hipping down into you, you cut across to the far side for the finish (series/counter to opponents counter). Watch a high level college wrestler, they'll have 3 or 4 counters to the opponents counters in order to ultimately score.

5) You need to wrestle as many live matches as possible. Nothing gives you more "feel" for position than live matches. It will also become very clear why your moves don't work or where your weaknesses are so you can fix them in the practice room. Moves don't work because you missed A) a detail in the technique that takes away chances of your opponent escaping, B) you had no set up for the skill, or C) you had no counter to your opponents counter. This next thing is hard to do, few have the drive to get this done, but if you want to truly max out your ability, you should wrestle 40+ matches each winter, spring and fall (get 100+ matches per year). Summer is for camps - technique, intensive, duals (dual camps would give you another block of matches).

6) Whenever possible, partner up with someone better than you. You want to be "pushed" every time. Good wrestlers are good because they train seriously and know how to train, so partner with them so you can learn how to train at a higher level. Sometimes you will be the better wrestler, help that partner be better. Don't suffer through a bad workout, tell the person what you need them to do and/or how hard you need them to work - they'll get better and your workout won't suffer as much. You are part of a team, partner UP when you can, but be a good teammate and teach others how to train like a champion. Quality drilling is when the partner gives some resistance so you are forced to be in better position or work for the score - both are examples of what will happen in a live match. Why drill or practice something that is not like a real match; we don't want our partner to just fall down or roll over.

7) One thing that can't be taught is "mental toughness". Offensively you have to have the mind set that you are going to dominate your opponent. From the first whistle,to the last whistle, you have to be relentlessly attacking and moving your opponent. Respect them enough that you are not careless or reckless, but don't respect them so much that you are not moving and attacking. You also have to be tough enough to eat some pain as to not go over to your back or give up points. The mind set is that "nothing you can do will ever make me turn over". Some people are just plain tougher than others, but everyone can raise their level of competitive toughness (will to win) to higher levels. It's in your head. I once heard a high school coach ask a World Silver Medalist "what would you do if someone had you in an arm bar?" The silver medalist replied "I would never allow that to happen, it wouldn't happen to me". That's not to say that the silver medalist has never been in an arm bar, what it means is that "my mind set is that I won't allow you to score on me". Bottom line on mental toughness - "I don't even understand the words give in or give up".

8) Watch the best wrestlers wrestle. On TV, video tape, youtube, Flo Wrestling, Live competions (State Meet, NCAA Championships, Olympics). Watch what they do, copy them, learn from them, move like them - rewind several times and analyze how they set that move up. Pay most attention to wrestlers who are national good, they'll have fewer bad habits and show you more of what it takes to be the best. Just as important (and don't skip this), watch them train; watch them drill. They honed their skills in the practice room, so find out how they practice and train like them. If you can talk to someone at the highest level, ask them to give you some tips on how you can get to their level.

** Notice I never mentioned weight lifting, a healthy dietor conditioning. These things are important, but "wrestling skills" count the most. When skills are equal, strength, nutritionand conditioning will break the tie. Adding weight lifting, a healthy diet and great conditioning will give you a competitive EDGE in those tight championship matches, but you have to start with sport specific skill - you actually have to wrestle.

**You could do all of the above and still fail because of three things. Three things that will not even allow you to step on the mat, let alone fail on the mat. You have to have 1) the grades to be eligible to compete, 2) you have to have good hygiene to stay away from common wrestling infections, and 3) you need to get properly warmed up and stretch to prevent injury.

**Most people do not have the drive to get all this done, so they will not reach FULL POTENTIAL. This is not a bad thing. You have other things in your life that matter as well, and certainly wrestling is not that important in the grand picture of life. Wrestling should be fun and challenging. Just understand (and be honest with yourself), for each degree less that 100% of your effort to the above requirements, you will have that much less success in this sport. There are kids doing all of the above, and they will beat you. It may be for the championship of your conference or league, it may be for the state championship, it may be for an Olympic championship, but some people do pay the price of success before stepping on the mat with you. Write down your goals, write down the work needed to get there, follow your plan and know that you got exactly as far as the price you were willing to pay (in sweat). I may have talked about wrestling here, but the same will apply everywhere - family, job, quality of life, sports, school, etc. People don't get trophies for doing nothing; and they don't have happy lives sitting on their butt either. An old saying: "If you knew how hard I worked to get here you would not be so amazed at what I have done".