Thoughts on Wrestling, Business, and Life

Category: Training

You Only Get Points For Finishing

You only get points for finishing is something that I tell my athletes. When I tell them this, it is in the context of wrestling, and I say it most when they are asking me if they should finish their attacks during their drills. Everybody wants to win, but you need to prepare properly in order to do that. In the end finishing is what wins wrestling matches. You don’t get any style points for a good set up or a good attack. You are only awarded points for execution and that means finishing. It applies to more than wrestling.

How many gold medals are given out for starting a race? The answer is none. Gold medals are given out to those who not only finish, but also finish first. If you even want to be in contention, then you have to finish. Think about it, how many college degrees are awarded for just enrolling in classes? How many times does a customer buy by you only starting your sales pitch? How many pancakes are enjoyed after the batter is merely mixed without being cooked? The answer again is none.

I am guilty of starting things and not finishing. Unfortunately I do it more than I would like to. It’s challenging to finish things. It takes effort and requires hard work. It may be painful, but all of the benefits come after the finish. So next time you start that diet or start reading a new book, work hard to finish it because you only get points for finishing.

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Cutting Weight Is Overrated

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Cutting Weight Is Over-rated

I first started cutting weight when I was a freshman in high school. I really wanted to wrestle on the varsity team, but the problem was that my older brother was already varsity at the 189 pound weight class, and I couldn’t beat him. I didn’t want to wrestle the 215 pound weight class because I thought that those kids were too big and strong for me even though I was already weighing 210 pounds anyway. I saw everyone else was going down weight classes instead of wrestling up, and I thought that is what you were supposed to do as a wrestler. I mean what wrestler doesn’t cut weight, right? I decided that the best weight class for me to wrestle at would be 171 pounds, almost forty pounds lighter than I was weighing at the time, and I had to get my weight down fairly quickly because the high school wrestling season only lasted about 4 months anyway. I had no idea what I was doing, but I decided that I would give it a try.

I started doing a lot of extra work after practice. I would run with my coat on, I would jump rope, I would crawl underneath the wrestling mats to sweat more (Which by the way is dangerous. Please don’t ever try it. You could get stuck under the heavy mats and never make it out again.) I did a lot of things to try to lose weight. However, it took me awhile to figure out that my biggest problem was what I was eating. I was eating way too much to be able to lose weight.

All of my life, I have been a pretty healthy eater, or a glutton, or a fat kid. Whatever you want to call it is fine by me. Needless to say, I ate way too much. In fact, I still eat too much. Anyway, I was consuming too many calories to produce any type of significant weight loss, so I did the first thing that everybody does when they don’t know what they are doing when it comes to weight loss. I stopped eating. I guess I should say that I didn’t stop eating completely, but for awhile I tried to live off of lettuce with fat free italian dressing and a little bit of bread. It was a bad idea. I felt like crap and I was hungry all of the time. I started being a lot more selective of what I ate, and I even did some things that were really dumb to try to lose weight, but I won’t go into detail about them. I wouldn’t want anyone to justify trying it because I did.

I began to continue to educate myself about what I should and shouldn’t eat, and I did my best to stick to a pretty strict diet. There were lots of days that I would eat a plain baked potato for lunch, seriously a plain freaking baked potato. It was horrible. I would much rather have eaten pizza, a hamburger, or even just a plain old sandwich, but no I ate baked potatoes. I increased the frequency of my tiny meals and kept up my cardio. After wrestling in a couple of JV tournaments my freshman year, I finally got down to weight and was able to wrestle off for a spot on the varsity team. I earned the varsity spot, and I was happy. I was a freshman wrestling varsity, and that made me feel really good. I really felt like all of the hard work and discipline had paid off huge for me.

The only problem was that I was hungry all of the time. I developed a habit of thinking what my next meal was going to be all the time. I was starving myself. My cheeks got sucken in, I was tired and sleepy all the time which resulted in me sleeping through a lot of classes. I just never felt like doing anything except when it was time to wrestle. Then I was excited for wrestling practice, but I just didn’t have much enthusiasm for anything else. Cutting weight was not a pleasant experience.

After my freshman year, I decided that I didn’t want to cut weight that way anymore. It was miserable, and it made me want to quit wrestling a lot. I moved up a weight class for the next few years, and I was a lot happier. I learned how to lose weight a lot better though. Here are a couple of things that I learned from doing it wrong at the start:
1 – Don’t skip meals. I learned that it was important to always be putting fuel into my body so that I would have energy to train and exercise to lose weight. If you just keep burning energy and never refuel, you will feel like crap, and you will probably perform like crap.
2 – Don’t drink your calories. It is so easy to consume a lot of calories by drinking them. When I learned that I could eat a piece of chicken instead of drinking a can of soda, I opted for the chicken. I stopped drinking my calories, however, I did occasionally drink milk because it has calcium and protein.
3 – Slow down. I started chewing my food a whole lot more because I knew that I wouldn’t get to eat a whole lot of it.
4 – Water and gum became my best friends. I started to drink a lot more water so that my stomach would feel fuller. It helped quite a bit. I also started chewing a whole lot more gum. It kept my mouth occupied and it helped to curb hunger cravings.
5 – Increase cardio. The more you exercise, the more calories that you burn. Fuel the machine, but then put it to work. I did a lot of jump rope, and it not only helped me lose weight, it also helped to improve my foot speed. It was a win win.

There is a lot of work going into cutting weight, and most wrestlers are doing it for a couple of reasons. The first one is that they don’t know any differently. They have been taught from day one that they need to drop down a weight class regardless of body fat percentage or skill level. I didn’t know any differently either. Nobody suggested that I wrestle what I actually weighed and just lift weights to get stronger. Another reason wrestlers cut weight is because they are scared that they will get beat if they wrestle what they weigh because the bigger kids will come down a weight class. This is some bad reasoning. The kid might be strong when he is fifteen pounds heavier, but after all of the energy that goes into losing that weight in a short period of time, that wrestler won’t be as strong as they were before they started their cut. You don’ t need to be afraid of wrestling bigger opponents.

I think two great examples from college wrestling that illustrate that you can move up in weight class and be successful are Cael Sanderson and Kyle Dake. Cael was a four time NCAA champion and he wrestled up a weight class his senior year. Kyle Dake has wrestled a different weight class for the last three years, and he won his weight division at the NCAA tournament every single year. He moved up a weight again this year, and there is a very good chance that he will win the NCAA tournament again. You see you don’t have to suck yourself down and feel like crap to wrestle. You can eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, and enjoy the sport of wrestling instead of dreading it every day of your life because you feel miserable and feel like you are dying. Remember the first part of the word “diet” is “die”.

In conclusion, if you have to lose a few pounds for wrestling ok that’s fine. However, if you are cutting a ton of weight so that you can feel like crap and be miserable, perhaps you need to re-evaluate what it is that you wan’t to get out of the sport. If you focus on improving technique and becoming a better wrestler you will improve your technique and become a better wrestler. If you focus on losing weight, you will lose weight, but that doesn’t mean that you will be a better wrestler. You decide which one is most important to you.

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Five Minutes Extra To Make A Champion

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Five Minutes Extra To Make A Champion

I’m sure that most people have heard about going the extra mile, but how many people have heard about putting in five minutes extra to make a champion? I think that one of the most important things to learn about sports and life in general is to do a little bit extra than what you are asked to do. Those who take and implement this idea into their own training or routine won’t be disappointed. I know this because this principle is something that helped me out a ton over the course of my wrestling career.

Five minutes doesn’t seem like a long time when you are at rest, but if I asked you to hold your breath for five minutes straight, you would probably look at me like I was absolutely nuts. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting that anyone try to hold their breath for five minutes. I’ve heard that it can cause brain damage, and if you’re anything like me, you need all of the brain cells that you have. What I am talking about is taking an extra five minutes a day to focus on something very specific with laser like pinpoint intensity to help you get the most out of your effort. Let me share a story with you about how this principle helped me.

I had just made the transition to wrestling internationally full time, and I was a little slow at picking up one of the positions that a lot of American wrestlers struggle with when they make the adjustment from folkstyle wrestling to Greco roman or freestyle wrestling. The parterre position is the mat wrestling that you do where one wrestler is trying to turn the other to gain points, and the other wrestler is trying to defend from the bottom position. In folkstyle wrestling, you are not penalized to roll across your back, unless your opponent holds you there for at least a two count, then you give up points. In the international styles of wrestling, if your shoulders break ninety degrees and your back is exposed, you give up points to your opponent. It is a very important position to master, but it can be tough because in the U.S. we adapt to one set of rules over our wrestling careers and then suddenly change them. Anyway, I was one of the athletes that was having a tough time mastering the parterre defense position.

I realized how important it was to get tough in this position, so every day after practice, I started taking just a little bit of time to improve in this position. I asked a heavyweight who was a member of the Armenian Olympic team to get on top of me and challenge me from that position. He was stronger than I was and had really long arms that would wrap all the way around my hips making it difficult for me to move and keep my hips from turning which would then cause my shoulders to turn. It was really frustrating because every day, he would get on top of me and start squeezing the crap out of me, and for the first while, every day I would get turned over and over like a top. My hips were also taking a beating. He would squeeze so tight that when I would resist, my wet clothing would rub against my hips and waist and leave burn marks. There were days after practice that my hips and waist were literally bleeding from the abuse that I was taking. However, I kept working at it for a few minutes after practice, and I got better and better.

Finally, there was one day that when I went down underneath this monster that I fully made up my mind that he was not going to turn me. I let him get his deepest tightest lock, giving him the advantage, and we both started to work. He was trying to turn me, and I was fighting to stop him. I drove my hips down hard and drove with my toes, while at the same time I pulled with my arms and hands trying to stay one inch ahead of his lock and pressure. He kept adjusting his lock and driving his shoulder into my back, but I kept moving and moving and moving. I didn’t give him a chance to get set well enough to turn me. Finally, he gave his last attempt, and he was unable to turn me. I had done it! It was the first time that I was able to defend against this heavyweight with the gorilla like arms. It was a huge confidence boost for me. It was also the moment that the understanding of how to defend from that position clicked in my mind and body, and from that point, the parterre defense become one of my strong positions. In fact, a couple of years later, improving that exact same position was what enabled me to win a world medal!

This was’t the first time that I had taken time after practice to work to improve my techniques. I had done it many times before, and it worked just like it had the previous times. I also think that for some reason there is a little extra benefit when you do something after practice. It seems like the mindset that goes into focusing on a single aspect of your game has a magical type of effect that really doubles or triples the benefit that you get from that short time. Maybe it’s because you feel more confident when you hit that technique during competition or you just believe in yourself more because you know that you have put in the extra time. I don’t know why those five minutes are so beneficial, but I know that they make a huge difference and can help determine whether you are on the winning or losing end of things.

This principle doesn’t just apply to wrestling techniques either. You can apply this to anything that you would like to improve whether its reading, writing, listening, selling, whatever. If you put in the extra time, and do more than is being asked of you, it is guaranteed that you will benefit. I am not saying that it is the magic bullet that will make you win every single time, but you will get better. However, consistent improvement and progress over the long term will help you to get closer and closer to achieving your goals.

Now back to wrestling. Here are a few ideas of what you can do in five minute increments to make yourself a better wrestler:

1 – Run some sprints. You can never be in too good of shape. Sprints after practice will help to build your lung capacity and your endurance.
2 – Shadow drill. Stance and motion are basics that you always need to put some time into. Try to stay down in your stance without coming up for five minutes or shaking out your legs. Your legs will burn at first, but it will help you get faster at all of your attacks.
3 – Workout with dumbbells. The great thing about dumbbells is that you can do a whole variety of exercises without having to change equipment over and over again. Grab a set of dumbbells and keep them moving for five minutes straight. You will feel the burn and gain strength and muscular endurance as well.
4 – Jump rope. It develop foot speed and quickness.
5 – Visualize your perfect match. There is a huge mental aspect to wrestling. Visualize how your perfect match looks, sounds, feels, smells, and tastes like.
6 – Drill one specific technique. I should have put this one first. I think that the story illustrates the benefit of this already.
7 – Stretch. The more advanced I got in age, the more I had to stretch to stay healthy and avoid injury. It is often overlooked, but it is also an important part of training.

There are a bunch of other things that you can do after practice. This is just a short list to give you some suggestions. Hopefully the list is helpful or hopefully you can come up with a list of your own that will help you to improve whatever situations that you are working on.

Thanks for reading my blog. If you like it, please share it. Thanks.

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A Year Round Training Schedule

As I have made the transition from competing to coaching, there a couple of things that I have taken for granted as common knowledge for all wrestlers. One of these things is just knowing what type of training that an athlete who is serious about wrestling should be doing. There are several aspects of training that need to be addressed so it is very important that an athlete that is serious about their success makes time for the following aspects: technique, strength training, conditioning, and wrestling.

Technique is so important. By understanding and applying the proper techniques and position, wrestling becomes much more fun. Brute strength will not win every wrestling position so it is very important to know what to do and when. There are so many subtleties and variations of techniques as well that it is imperative to take the time to find what works best for the athlete and then drill it over and over again. I think that every wrestler should make time to drill and work on technique at least 2 times a week in the morning that is outside of their regular afternoon wrestling practices. Also it is more important to focus on one or two techniques at a time so that they can be mastered as opposed to hopping around from a bunch of different techniques all at once. Focused intensity can make a huge difference in performance.

There is a lot of strength that is built from the actual act of wrestling in practice, but the weight room is also a great place to build strength. I recommend getting into the weight room at least twice a week to help build and maintain muscle and strength. The focus of the weight lifting sessions should be Olympic type of lifts that help to build the strength in the legs, back, and shoulders. I also believe that partner lifts, bodyweight lifts, band training, and other functional equipment is important to incorporate into a lifting program. For kids that have never really trained much with weights, they should stick to some of the other lifts until they have someone who can properly educate and supervise them.

It is hard to wrestle for very long if you don’t have much in your gas tank (lung capacity). Lack of oxygen makes cowards of us all. If you don’t have the proper conditioning, it is hard to keep attacking throughout the course of a wrestling match. It is important that you take the time to get in a couple of good cardio practices in every week with running, jump rope, biking, or swimming. The cross training is also a great way to change things up.

Hard wrestling sessions and competitions show you how well you have been preparing yourself to wrestle. You might be able to execute a move while drilling, but it is a whole different story when you have someone trying to score on you. Most of the time wrestlers get their live practices in during the afternoon. I think that the optimal time for a wrestling practice that includes a good warm up, technique time, and live wrestling should only be around 90 minutes to 2 hours. Anything over that and you will start to lose the athlete’s attention as well as their ability to perform at their best. Make sure to stay hydrated during these tough practices. Dehydration slows you down and weakens you.

So to sum up what I think is the ideal training schedule goes something like this: Drill twice a week in the morning, strength train twice a week in the morning, and run or do some other form of cardio twice a week in the morning. Then you should have live wrestling practice in the afternoon 3-5 times a week depending on what your competition schedule is like. The intensity should also be varied.

By adding the different types of training to your routine, you will be able to keep things fresh and exciting and you will be prepared for competition. Good luck.

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10 Drills wrestlers can do on their own

10 Drills Wrestlers Can Do On Their Own
1. Stance and motion – Everyone can improve their foot speed, motion, and conditioning by staying down in a stance and moving. It is easy to under estimate how much this one exercise can help out your wrestling so much. It is also challenging. Try staying down in your stance and moving for 7 minutes straight and you’ll see how challenging it can really be.
2. Straight shot – Again as long as you have access to a mat, you can work on your shot. Remember to bring up your trail leg and drive through your imaginary opponent.
3. Sweeping shot – Focus on turning the corner to get an angle as soon as your knee hits the ground.
4. Stand up – Make sure that you start with a good base before you come up. If your base is too narrow, it will be a lot easier for the top wrestler to ride you. Don’t get lazy about driving your hips out as you get to your feet.
5. Change over – This one makes more sense after you’ve seen in. Imagine someone is in referee’s position on top of you. Post off your inside hand and outside foot and sit your inside leg through. After your leg comes underneath, post weight and both hands and transfer weight to your opposite hip. From there, push yourself up with your post hand and leg that is tucked under your hip. Maintain your balance as you get to your feet and fight the hands. I’ll have to do a video to explain this one better.
6. Head lock – Work on your back step and getting your hips through. Keep your legs bent as you back step to maintain your explosive power.
7. Arm throw – Again work on your back step and quickness. Back step with your trail leg and pivot on your front leg down to your knee. Keep your trail leg up and back fairly straight, then drive off of your trail leg.
8. Gut wrench – I highly recommend wrestling free style and Greco in the off season to develop other skills. Secure your lock against an imaginary opponent. Drive forward with your legs, turn, then arch up high over your head.
9. Swing step straight lift – Start with a straight lock then swing your lifting leg backwards to the opposite side and forward again. Maintain a wide position, pull, and cinch your lock. Again more easily described through a video.
10. Sprawl – I should have posted this one earlier, but I’m glad that I didn’t forget it. As you sprawl make sure you bring one hip down heavily and circle to your feet. Don’t make the mistake of just stepping up after the sprawl, otherwise you’ll develop a bad habit. Make the effort to circle up every time.

These are just ten things that you can do on your own, but I promise that they will help with your wrestling. I did every single one of these drills during my own wrestling career, and I know that they’re effective. Don’t worry about people thinking you look weird while you’re wrestling your imaginary opponent. Besides would you rather look really cool or be a really good wrestler? Take a few minutes a day to master these drills, and you will see an improvement in your wrestling.

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed these tips please subscribe to my blog and share this post with others. Also feel free to contact me. I love reader feedback.

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Ten Things Every Wrestling Parent Should Know

Ten Things That Every Wrestling Parent Should Know
1. If your child wants to be successful in the sport they need to do more than is asked
-One of the best things that I have learned from wrestling is that success requires hard work. If you want to get ahead, then you have to do more than is asked of you. Even if its just an extra five minutes a day, your child should do just a little bit more to master the skills that they are already working hard at developing.
2. Wrestling is different than other team sports
-You don’t “play” wrestling like you play other sports. It is hard to understand unless you’ve done it before. The sport requires so much and your performance comes down to the individual. If you fail you can’t blame missed block or shot on someone else. The responsibility is entirely yours. Wrestling is just different from other sports.
3. If your child wants to cut weight let them cut some, but don’t force your kids down
-In the United States, kids are brought up in the sport to cut weight, however, I don’t believe that most kids should cut weight. I do believe that the discipline required to make good food choices is a good thing, I don’t think that the parent should force their child down several weight classes. In the end the athlete is the one making the sacrifices and he should be the one deciding what weight to wrestle.
4. Sometimes the better move is up a weight class
-Sometimes instead of encouraging kids to go down a weight class, the better move is to go up. Your child’s training is better when they aren’t cutting calories, and they will adjust to the bigger weight class. It might be a challenge at first, but they can gain the strength that they need to compete at the higher weight, and it won’t be as stressful as cutting weight all season.
5. Strength training won’t hurt your child
-There are a lot of parents who think that strength training can be harmful to youth. Strength training can be dangerous at any age if heavy weights and poor technique are involved, but proper weight selection and proper weight lifting technique will be beneficial. I recommend bodyweight exercises, partner exercises, and exercises with a piece of equipment called the Bulgarian Bag. You an build strength specific to wrestling with limited equipment, and they will become that much better.
6. The high school season isn’t enough
-If your child really wants to be successful in wrestling, then they need to wrestle in the off season as well. If your child trains only the three months or so out of the year during the school season, they will not be gaining a competitive edge against their opponents. In most areas there are different clubs available to participate in. Do your research and make sure you are finding a good one.
7. Your child needs to keep grades up if they want to wrestle in college
-As a college coach one of the most frustrating things involved in recruiting is finding a very talented athlete only to learn that their grades are not good enough to compete in college athletics. If you want to push your child to excel at something, push them to excel in the classroom.
8. It’s good to broaden horizons, compete out of state
-By traveling to bigger competitions outside of your home state your child will see higher and higher levels of competition. This gives them an opportunity to see talent from other areas and see where they are at with their skill development.
9. Show your child that you love them regardless of their performance
-There is a lot of stress involved in competing in the sport of wrestling. The athlete doesn’t need more pressure from parents to perform. If they think that your love is based on their performance they will be more likely to put even more pressure on themselves. If your child develops and executes the necessary skills, winning and losing will take care of itself.
10. Not all clubs are created equal
-Just like in any other industry, not all clubs or teams are created equal. Different coaches have different levels of experience and expertise as well as distinct coaching styles. It is important for parents to help their children to find what works best for them individually and to encourage them to keep growing. I was fortunate to have the coaches that I did at each phase of my career. In the beginning I would not have done well with a coach that pushed me over the edge. Some kids are similar to how I was, however, other kids thrive with an in your face style of coaching. It all depends on each individual athlete.

Obviously there are many other things that a parent should know about the great sport of wrestling and how it can affect their child. Fortunately there are plenty of other wrestling parents and coaches who are willing to give advice too. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me by phone 719-200-5557 or email justinruizwrestling@gmail.com. You can also find me on Facebook and twitter. My twitter handle is justinruiz2012. Thanks for following my blog and I love to hear feedback from readers.

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Top Ten Things A Folkstyle Wrestler Should Work On

Top Ten Things A Folkstyle Wrestler Should Work On
1. Stance and Motion
– Your stance and movement is the foundation that your wrestling is built on. If its not solid you’re going to have some problems.
2. Set ups and hand fighting
– The better the set up, the easier it is to score. Prize fighters don’t take power punches without using jabs first. Soften up your opponent then attack.
3. Develop at least one attack to both legs
– You should be able to attack and score on each leg. If your opponent hides one you can attack the other.
4. Using hips to fight off a shot
– Too many kids sprawl without attacking their opponent with their hips. An opponent’s bad shot is one of the best places to score.
5. From bottom get to your feet before you fight hands
– Too many kids fight hands with their head down on the mat. If you get to your feet then you can fight hands, otherwise you’ll get ridden.
6. On top keep your feet driving to keep your opponent down
– The legs and hips are the strongest parts of the body. If you’re sitting on your knees or laying on your opponent with no pressure, you’re letting your opponent rest on bottom. Punish him instead.
7. Score and defend from a front headlock
– Front headlocks happen all of the time. You need to learn to score and protect yourself in that crucial position.
8. Drill with resistance
– No one will just lay down for you when you’re competing so you shouldn’t practice like that. Have your partner give you resistance so that you learn how to score with resistance. You and your partner should be improving at the same time.
9. Make as many attempts as you can in practice
– You learn from your mistakes, try making most of them in the practice room. The more attempts that you make, the more successes you’ll have. Keep attacking.
10. Keep wrestling from every position
– Too many times wrestlers get in a bad or unfamiliar position and give up. If you aren’t good from one position wrestle to a position that you are good at, but never ever stop until the whistle blows.

I know that this list is basic, but the basics executed perfectly are what win in anything in life. Discipline yourself to focus on the basics and your performance will improve guaranteed.

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7 Habits Of Highly Effective Wrestlers

I was thinking recently about what makes champions be just that, champions. Here is a list of ideas that I thought of:

1. Champions attend all practices. If you want to be a champion, then you need to show up period. Obviously every athlete will need time off, but champions don’t just skip practice. They always find a way to attend their training sessions. It is a number one priority.

2. Champions do a little bit extra. I never met a champion or a person that was successful in life that didn’t do more than what was asked or required of them. The athletes that truly want to be their best will take the extra 10-20 minutes to perfect their technique, improve conditioning, get stronger, or have a better match strategy. The little amounts of extra work add up over a life time.

3. Champions study other champions. The best wrestlers are the ones who are continually learning and striving to become better. In the sport of wrestling there is always something new that can be learned. No matter how long you have been around, you can always learn something new or get better at a particular skill. Champions will take the time to learn what other champions are doing. They remain humble enough to learn and seek out better ways of doing things.

4. Champions do not blame, justify, or complain. Blaming, justifying, and complaining are serious errors when it comes to being a winner. By blaming someone else, you release yourself from the responsibility of finding a solution to your problem. The same goes for justifying and complaining. As soon as you take the time to start doing any of those three things, you have stopped focusing on how you can be the best at what you do. I have seen teams fall apart because there was too much blaming, justifying, and complaining going on. Each individual needs to give their best effort everyday.

5. Champions make the best of what they have and strive for more. I have been fortunate enough to travel the world many times over, and I have seen people that are blessed with much while others struggle with very little. The key is to make due with what you have while striving to improve your situation. I remember the first time that I went to Cuba and saw how rough of conditions that they have at their Olympic Training Center. They don’t have working toilets and their wrestling room has no climate control. If it is burning up outside, it’s hot inside. If it is freezing outdoors, it is freezing indoors. Despite their difficult set of circumstances, they still find a way to produce amazing athletes that win world and Olympic medals. They don’t complain about their lot, they work to get better.

6. Champions communicate. This one sounds simple, but a lot of time athletes expect coaches to be mind readers. Nobody to my knowledge has the skill of mind reading so it is imperative to be an effective communicator. Sometimes you have illness or injury come up that can conflict with training and if it isn’t communicated correctly to the coach or athlete, then things can get problematic. This is something that I was never really great at as an athlete, but now as a coach I really wish that I would have taken more time to communicate with my coaches what it was that I felt like I needed in my training. I believe that they would have taken the effort to make accommodations to my needs, just as I would be more than happy to help out any of my athletes if they needed something.

7. Champions take 100% responsibility for themselves. Champions realize that they are responsible for their lives. If they don’t like something they can work to change it. No one else can make them better so they do everything that they can to work their butt off to be successful. They know that people can help them, but it is their responsibility to ask for it.

I know these aren’t all of the things that champions do, but it is a start. These principles don’t just apply to sport, but rather to life in general. I hope that you can use some of these in any of your personal endeavors. Good luck!

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Doing The Little Things Right

Doing the little things right is important, but why do we often neglect to do the small things that make a big difference?A lot of people say that they are willing to go to extremes to be a success, and that is great. However, I think that it is even more important to do the small daily tasks that will pay off huge dividends in the future.

For example, in wrestling someone might be willing to run through a brick wall to win, but unless they pay the price of daily practices, they are wasting their time. Or let’s look at relationships where a spouse is willing to work like crazy to afford a week’s vacation abroad, but they won’t say I love you to their spouse everyday or take time to really listen.

The truth is that most successes are not made from one huge miracles instance, but rather small daily actions that will make all of the difference. If we neglect the small things, we also ignore the major things because when the challenge arises, we will be unprepared.

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Drilling Technique: Getting It Right

When I was a young wrestler, the first two moves that I learned were a double leg take down and a barbed wire. You may or may not be familiar with these moves, but since they were really the only thing that I knew at the time, I clung to both of them for dear life. I knew that I at least had to have some moves in my arsenal that would allow me to compete with the other wrestlers who wanted to win just like I did. The coach had us repeat techniques over and over for practice, and I found out that they called this drilling. It sounds kind of funny when you consider drilling usually involves boring a hole into something, perhaps the drilling in wrestling bores deep into your body’s weakness and inexperience while at the same time fills the hole with strength and a new set of reactions to be used during a wrestling match. Anyway, over the years I finally learned something, and that is that drilling is a whole lot more than just taking turns. When you’re drilling wrestling, you’re really wrestling at a little slower pace.

When you first learn a move, you are going to have to go over it again and again until your body and mind finally work well enough together so that you can go through the movement. The next stage is to add set ups, finishes, and transitions to the attacks that you are working on. One of the biggest mistakes that I see when people are drilling, especially youth, is that their partner gives them no resistance or real life feel of what it will be like in competition to try to score using that technique. By drilling in a way that allows both the driller and the drillee an opportunity to improve their skills, you will get the most out of technique or practice session.

This is how a good drill session plays out. There was an exercise that my coach Ivan Ivanov had us go through that he liked to call 20-20. Basically the exercise is that each person will drill on the other person for 20 minutes. However, the caveat is that whomever is being drilled on has to give some resistance as well as try to score on their partner. If their partner gets sloppy or if they leave an opening then it is the partner’s obligation to score from the defensive position. This gives the individual who is drilling a better feel of what it is going to be like in competition.

If you think about doing certain exercises in wrestling like you do certain exercises in weightlifting, all of this makes more sense. For example, if you are trying to learn a new lift in the weight room, you are going to make sure that you take it slowly so that you get the technique right. After you have the technique down, you will obviously add resistance to challenge yourself and get stronger. Well it is the exact same thing with wrestling. After you have a basic feeling of what you are doing, it is imperative that you add resistance so you get better, and getting better is what you want. After all don’t you want to be able to execute those moves in a match that you work so hard on in the wrestling room?

Take time to drill properly and develop the skills that will help you to achieve your goals. Don’t think that you are getting off the hook of a great workout by drilling instead of wrestling live. There are times when drilling can actually be more difficult than actually wrestling because you are actively creating more flurries than would occur in an actual match. Train hard, train right, and you will get the results that you are working for.

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