Wrestling is for everyone. Whether you are training for fun, fitness or for competition, wrestling is the best sport for you. Wrestling in Ireland has great opportunities for both boys and girls to reach their maximum potential in sport, possibly representing Ireland in a International Competition, European Games, World Championships or go all the way to an Olympic Games.
When starting out all wrestlers start with different tools to be successful. Some are naturally strong, some are fast, some are technical and some have great balance. Then there are some that are not blessed with the natural skills right off the bat. But they have the determination to get better and that is what will allow them to go further than someone with natural ability alone.
For some, it clicks right away. For the majority, however, it takes time to become good at wrestling. It is not an easy sport and it is not for everyone. But the lessons you learn and the feeling you get when your hard work enables you to do well and even win matches, far outweighs the blood, sweat and tears it takes to get there.
To enjoy the sport, a wrestler must find success. The training sessions are not always easy. It’s not that winning is the only thing but pulling off moves and winning matches is a lot more fun than losing. While each wrestler will progress at different speeds, the following are steps that successful wrestlers may follow.
Step 1: Show Interest – Some people are attracted to wrestling because it’s physical. Some enjoy the idea of getting fit and strong or learning “cool moves”. And others like the aspect of individual competition. It could also be that their friends talked them into it. But at some level, there is a spark of motivation that starts it off.
Step 2: Learn the Basics – The basics or fundamentals, are everything in wrestling. It doesn’t matter how many moves you know if you can’t master the basics.
Step 3: Get Beat & Learn to Lose – Many first time wrestlers only win a few matches and some do not win any in their first year of competitive wrestling. While some seem to pick things up quickly, they may still get beaten by the wrestlers who are already slightly ahead. Brand new wrestlers can and should go to beginner tournaments at first, but if they are finding early success they should move on to more advanced competitions. The mind and body adapts and will settle on what it takes to achieve success. No matter how quickly a wrestler picks up the sport, you cannot be successful in wrestling without losing some matches and pushing through adversity.
Step 4: Get Beaten Some More – Whether in matches or with more experienced wrestlers in training, you are going to take some bumps early on. For some, this may take a year or two before realising what it takes to succeed.
Step 5: Decide You Want to Get Better – At some point a wrestler will make a choice. That they don’t like the sport enough to push through the adversity OR they decide that they want to get better. Maybe in the course of training, you pull off a super technique or you get close to scoring and the taste of victory is enough to motivate you to want it more. But at some point, a decision is made to improve and you start setting goals for yourself.
Step 6: Work your Tail Off – Now that the decision has been made, the next step is to put in the time and effort to get better. But you cannot improve at wrestling by just showing up to training. You have to come in hungry to learn and ready to work. And while training is important, it is what you do outside of the room that will separate you from your competitors.
Step 7: Get Mat Time – This is one of the most overlooked, yet most important ways to improve. There is a direct correlation to the number of matches you wrestle and your ability to succeed. You can’t get better at wrestling by just showing up to training.
Step 8: Breakthrough Moment – At some point there is an “a ha” moment and something clicks to unlock the next level (see below). This could be improving a certain technique or simply overcoming a mental obstacle. But at some point, things become clear and you now start winning more and gaining more confidence.
Step 9: Seek out Tougher Competition – You cannot move levels without this. We repeat. You cannot move levels without finding ways to get outside of your comfort zone and adapt to a new level of wrestling.
Step 10: Continuously Repeat Steps 4-9 – At each level you move to, you will face new adversity and will need to continue to push yourself in order to get better.
So what does it mean to go to the “next level”? As you repeat the cycle of improving, getting beaten and improving some more; a wrestler will move up through different tiers of success. Eventually a wrestler will move onto a higher level and the cycle continues. How quickly a wrestler moves through these steps depends on the work put in, mat time and the desire to progress.
Level 1 – This sport is fun, but I’m losing a lot, that’s ok.
Level 2 – I’m starting to win matches at beginner tournaments, but I’m getting crushed at open ones. It’s hard, but I think I’m starting to get it.
Level 3 – I’m winning 1-2 matches each open tournament
Level 4 – I consistently win 2-3 matches and I’ve placed in a couple of tournaments
Level 5 – I am a pretty consistent placer with a couple of tournament wins under my belt
Level 6 – I expect to win most local tournaments & matches
Level 7 – National, International winner or placer; I am now traveling to seek out tougher competition and I win a few matches when I go. (Note: The attempt at level 7 can help speed along the progress toward level 6)
Level 8 – I am starting to place in national tournaments and I dominate local ones
Level 9 – I’m officially a national champ, placing and competing for the win every time
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