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Mental Toughness

Posted Wednesday, November 20, 2013 by Dan Pellicone
Article by Mark ....
Wrestling: Mind over Matter website

     Toughness is defined as being strong and resilient, able to go through great strain without destruction. Mental toughness is being able to perform at one's highest potential. When a person feels strong and ready to fight, being alert, responsive and instinctive. Self-confidence is the key to success, who can believe in you more than yourself? If you can't trust yourself then how can you trust your instinct? YOU CAN'T. You have to trust what you're doing when you're in a match. If you debate yourself when you are wrestling, and have to think about every move you make you will lose. Instinct wins matches. When you know the moves you want to get, have to get, and you know how you're going to set them up, thats when you know no one can stop you. If you trust your instinct, you can act and react with everything another wrestler throws at you.

     What stops you from performing your best? Emotions, plain and simple. Emotions such as fear, intimidation, anger, and fatigue. Anything that happens to you in a day creates emotions that can keep you from doing your best, but you can combat all of these emotions in one step. If you're in wrestling or any other sport, you know what it feels like when the crowd is roaring. You know what the winning touchdown, or the winning goal feels like, or even the fastest time feels like. But most importantly you know how good it feels when the referee blows the whistle and slaps the mat, when you've just pinned you're opponent, and the ref takes your hand and thrusts it in the air in front of the whole gym. This is what you need to picture when emotions get the best of you. This is how you battle your own thoughts. This technique is called imagery.

     Imagery is when you see yourself in a desired performance, the best you've ever dreamt about doing. You have to create imagery in your mind long before you step onto the mat. The night before a big match you should be already thinking about what will happen the next day. Imagery usually works best when you are in a relaxed state of mind a great time to do this is after a workout or before bed. Music helps some people too, throw on a song that you really like. It doesn't necessarily have to "pump you up" or get you're adrenaline going. Picture yourself shaking hands with the opponent, squeezing his hand harder than he squeezes yours, picture the ref blowing the whistle, in slow motion you're going through you're favorite move, perfectly. You're executing every move you do with speed and efficiency. You blocked his move and countered perfectly taking him down. You do your favorite pinning combination and turn him over. The ref slams the mat and raises your arms for the whole crowd to see. Think about what you're going to do in the big match over and over again, until you fall asleep. I, for example, play my favorite Metallica CD and lay in bed visualizing myself setting up my shot, grabbing his head, then as he picks his head back up, I'm shooting in on him, taking a double leg and taking him to the mat. I slam a cross face in when hes on his stomach, and post my hand so he can't move his rear leg, I see myself wrenching his head to his knee and locking in the cradle, my all time favorite move. I turn him to his back and hold him there, I force his shoulders onto the mat and for three seconds give everything I have. I picture the ref. slamming the mat and standing up, with my wrist in his hand. I picture the crowd roaring and I visualize everything over and over again. Imagery is the best way to prepare for a match, Imagery will make you unshakeable when it comes to match time. You will feel strong, ready, alert and tough, mentally tough. 

      Other than imagery and self-confidence, there are some other things you can do to improve your mindset and the mindset of you're opponent.

- The handshake, when you grasp his hand harder than he grabs yours you feel superior and he feels inferior, you may not notice it but it affects you.

- Don’t beat yourself up to psyche yourself up, focus on you’re goal, and visualize winning.

- Run to the middle of the mat every time you start a match, go out of bounds, or any other time the wrestling stops. It makes you feel like you’re beating him and shows him that you aren’t wearing down.

- Push him off the mat. When you can, if you’re locked up in a hold near the edge of the mat push him out. Not only does this prevent a stalemate, but also it shows him that you can push him around, and makes you feel like you’re winning.

- Stay off drugs or alcohol and other dangerous substances that could eventually end your career. These things only get in your way. They don't do anything to you besides lose a few of your brain cells.  (DP) .... These things develop complacency in people, in other words they poison your life with laziness and lethargy and a dull feeling of being ok with mediocrity or even under acheivement.

If you took the time to read this article, then you are not ok with mediocrity, you are looking for an edge, you are looking to improve yourself.  The simple fact that you are a wrestler defines you above those who are not.  You came to wrestling for a challenge that you can't find anywhere else. The aspects of an effective wrestler can be anything from Strength and Agility to Stamina and Technique, but a strong Mental Toughness ... a confidence in yourself, an ability to bounce back and perform under adversity will make a big impact on your wrestling and your life.

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