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Posted Wednesday, November 20, 2013 by Dan Pellicone
Focus! - You hear it yelled - Do you know what it means? - Article by Ted Witulski - USA Wrestling

Chances are you hear it yelled to a wrestler at tournaments all the time.  Often, after a tough scramble, a controversial call, or a big move, listen closely, you'll hear coaches yell that one word to their athlete.  That one word is meant to be both insight and comfort.  Every coach yells it but do you know what that one word means?

"FOCUS", the coach yells!  "FOCUS, you can win this match."  "FOCUS, you're still in it.  FOCUS!" 

All wrestlers at some point during the season in the heat of a match will only have a couple of fleeting seconds to return to FOCUS.  To be successful in these moments, one must understand what focus is and how to achieve it, when the wrestler has that short break in a match.

As a wrestling coach yells focus, the coach is engaging the wrestler to return back to only the moment of the match that is right in front of them.  The coach is urging them to recognize the situation at hand, leave the referee's calls, the adrenaline rush, and the past scored points aside.  Focus is a powerful tool for a wrestler to have at their command. 

F-O-C-U-S can be better understood if it is viewed as a five-letter acronym.  A wrestler should view each letter as a distinct action that must be undertaken to achieve focus.

First, the "F" of focus stands for forget.  Forget everything negative that has occured.  Forget the referee's call.  Forget the locked-hands call that tied the match.  Forget the cheap shot that you received out of bounds from your opponent.  The wrestler must focus, to achieve this, the wrestler must forget anything negative.

Second, if the wrestler is to be focused, then they must "O"rganize themselves.  To organize, the wrestler must recognize the moment of the match.  What is the exact situation that must be wrestled?  A succesful wrestler first forgets the negative and then organizes for the precise situation that they are in.  For example, a wrestler has just given up a reversal on the edge and went out of bounds.  Much has happened in this change of control.  There might be only a few seconds left, the wrestler might have just went down by a point.  The wrestler, in the few moments he has to get set on bottom, will need to know how to organize for that situation.

A wrestler organizing for that moment in the match must recognize the score, the time left in the period, the position to be wrestled, and the attacks to be wary of that his opponent will initiate.  There is a great deal of information to process in a short time for a wrestler to be organized and focused.  The wrestler must develop the skill of organizing for the moment of the match during a whistle break.

Forget the negative.  Organize for the precise situation.  Now the wrestler must "C"oncentrate on the action that must be taken to win in that moment.  A good and focused wrestler will know if they are on bottom and there are only 12 seconds left in the third period and they are down by one, that is important to be organized for that precise moment.  The wrestler should be disciplined enough to realize that with the limited time on the clock, their more advanced scoring manuevers, such as a granby roll, may take too long to score.  A wrestler who is concentrating must pick the best and precise move to win.

When Brock Lesnar had the down position in sudden-victory overtime in the NCAA finals, concentration played an important role in his win.  After trying to escape with stand-ups unsuccessfully Lesnar switched tactics.  He focused on the situation, did a half stand-up followed with a perfectly executed hip-heist.  To the unobservant eye this might have been a chance manuever, but if you watched the Minnesota staff, they helped Lesnar achieve focus, by concentrating on this precise movement and it won him a national title.  Instead of relying on a stand-up and the scramble for hand-control the change to a hip-heist was the perfect tactic to win the title.  That small change was achieved by focusing in on the situation, due in large part to the Minnesota staff urging this tactical shift.

In the seconds before the whistle initiates a re-start of action in the match, the wrestler must unwind.  Unwinding is really a simple process.  It is a matter of the wrestler taking control of the moment.  Once a wrestler "F"orgets, "O"rganizes and "C"oncentrates, he must then "U"nwind.

The process of unwinding is that reassuring breath that can give that wrestler a moment of pause.  The wrestler should draw in a deep breath on a three-count, hold it, and exhale on a three count.  When Brandon Slay won the Olympic Trials in 2000 he initiated this process of unwinding every time he started in par - terre (refs) position.  Before he would set himself on bottom or top, you could visually see him focus on the moment of the match.  He would check the score to organize himself, he would scan his mind to think of the movement he would attempt, and just before placing his hands to re-start wrestling, you could watch him unwind by drawing in and controlling a deep breath.  This process of unwinding, while focusing on the moment of the match, surely helped him gain the Olympic team spot.

Finally, the last part of focus is step.  The acronym of F-O-C-U-S walks a wrestler through fogetting the negative, organizing for the moment, concentrating on the movement, unwinding to take control of the rush of adrenaline, and the step to be taken at the sound of the whistle.  Now it is not enough for a wrestler to know to hit the inside stand-up.  Rather, the process of focus should help teach the speed and force that needs to go into the precise step to be taken at the initial whistle. 

Forget, organize, concentrate, unwind, and step ..... Make sure you take the time to go beyond the moves and understand the tactic of focus.

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