Response to a Comment from Age of Enlightenment or Avoidance
Great post Mike. I love the things you talk about here and the only question I have is what mirror do we use to look at ourselves (& more importantly our kids) when trying to evaluate our shared process. Every coach has different advice & the role of training vs. live is constantly debated. As a parent where do we look for the right path?
Chris, I think you’re asking the age-old question – what does it mean to be a good parent and how do I know if I’m doing my best for my wrestler? Long response.
If even the ancients knew that wrestling was the highest form of athletic endeavor, then these principles are indeed age old.
“I swear it upon Zeus an outstanding runner cannot be the equal of an average wrestler.” ~ Socrates
John Locke a major contributor to the enlightenment doesn’t have the concise quote that Socrates did but in his 1693 treatise on education: Some Thoughts Concerning Education, Locke expresses that every boy needs to learn how to wrestle as part of his education.
So according to these two giants even if our kids are just average wrestlers they are head and shoulders above their peers. I agree. I’m not a paragon of parenting but my thought is I don’t care if my son is a D1 wrestler or my daughter for that matter. I just want him to learn the important values that the sport teaches. I’ve coached dozens of boys that went on to wrestle in college. Could I push my son to that end successfully? Probably, but our long-term relationship is more important to me than his wrestling success. This upsets lots of people that know me. Sometimes it even upsets me. But an average wrestler of his own doing is a giant among people.
I’ve been around so many boys that were really excellent wrestlers but they were doing it for their dad. State champs that quit, college scholly wrestlers that just give it up when dad is a few hundred miles away. In my estimation they didn’t get the best lessons that me, Locke and Socrates believe in.
The doing of the thing for oneself is an incredible feeling and rite of passage for adolescentss and grown-ups. The internal rewards are what I think is important.
If you are looking for something less philosophical.
There are few extrinsic rewards in wrestling. I can name the wrestlers that have made a great living for the rest of their lives on one hand. Parents need to know whatever the amount of effort put into the sport needs to be for internal rewards. There are just north of 2,500 D1 wrestlers. The majority don’t get scholarship money.
Parents can successfully encourage wrestling because it builds so many multi-dimensional skills and behaviors that it benefits ex-wrestlers for the rest of their lives.
To pursue your wrestlers’ dreams, find coaches that incorporate the skills sets below. In most cases it requires many coaches or mentors to fill this bill. This can get expensive. Only the parent or person paying can determine whether it’s worth the investment. The more self-driven the wrestler the more support I’d give them just like any other endeavor.
As parents all have different strengths and weaknesses, many parents should be able to help with much of the basic list below. It is a great process to go through with your wrestler, self-discovery. If you or your child has multiple coaches someone needs to knit it all together. In general, the older a wrestler becomes the easier it is for them to do it. That said parents that don’t attach self-worth to their child’s wrestling success can have a more objective view and help their wrestler through blind spots or other challenges that they are sure to encounter.
Every coach has different advice & focus but in my experience the cream of the crop may express things differently but has very similar beliefs. There are some high-quality outliers but they are few and very far between. As a parent I try to find the ones that I think do their thing well and that my kids like. Finding a coach that you respect and like is a big part of the process. If your wrestler is improving stay the course with micro adjustments. If your coach wants to drill more and you don’t have the success that you hoped for try one that does more live. Every wrestler is different and only through experimentation can we say that no stone was left unturned in pursuit of dreams. If they aren’t improving, figure out the areas and make bigger adjustments. Use the fairly common outline below to measure your wrestler. Good luck.
- Mindset-100% effort, loves the sport, knows their values & why that want it (younger wrestlers might not know this but should be encouraged to start figuring this out), positive, driven, disciplined. Dealing with emotional challenge. Body language. Training without incorporating the mind is like only strength training your legs. A strong body without a strong mind is pointless. When this is high, it’s a good measure of success on all fronts.
- Learning approach. I break this out because it’s so big. So many top guys stop getting better because they don’t experiment, reflect or adjust. Weight cut and management, post weigh in routine, post-match and practice routines, etc. Use of video is important for review and confidence. What can I get better at approach? Knows failure is an important ingredient of success.
- Nutrition-Quality fuel for high performance. Not everyone is the same so knowing what quality fuel makes you feel best at practice and at a match is an important thing to figure out. Half of young people who consume energy drinks experience an adverse effect
- Athleticism, strength/conditioning- Periodized training and peaking cycles. From gymnastics and weight lifting to great short cardio hacks. If you know your body, you know yourself.
- Knows the importance of good positions for success and avoiding injury. Different than technique but they do knit together. Technique that suits strengths and can be used at more advanced levels. Positions and moves drilled, played and wrestled live.
- Training environment: Good partners with similar goals. Steel sharpens steel. Kids need confidence to push the fear and doubt out of their brain and win tough matches.
- Has a robust life off the mat.
In my experience the first thing is getting your wrestler to understand what giving 100% effort is and feels like. They also need to understand what sacrifice is and delayed gratification. This can’t only happen in the wrestling room. It’s a life style that needs to be seen role molded. It is the hardest thing on this list to do. Heck, if I understood this I would have been a national champ and Olympian. Good luck