How To Get Mentally Tough This Season

A picture of the cover to The Winning Mindset book by Kevin Seaman.

Don’t let your mind hold you back from reaching your goals this season!

Take 5 minutes out of your day and learn some tricks that will take your mental toughness to the next level.

Below is an excerpt from The Winning Mindset by Kevin Seaman and Jim Brault…

 

“It’s all up here,” Tim’s father told me, pointing to his head. “He has the skills and the conditioning, but he’s got to get it together mentally.”

Tim, a standout second-year varsity wrestler as a ninth-grader, was wrestling in a very competitive weight class in a very competitive tournament, one that drew teams from across the state.

Tim had just dropped two matches in a row. In both he had gotten pinned in the first period.

Tim had no business being pinned by either opponent, much less in the first two minutes.

In fact, he had the talent to beat one if not both guys, but he had appeared flat and lifeless on the mat, almost as if he were only going through the motions. It was a marked contrast to his usual aggressive style.

“I need some mental help,” Tim said after his second loss. We chatted for a while, and I invited him to come over to talk before his next match if he was interested.

A few days later he called and we set up some time.

“So, what would you like to accomplish today?” I asked as I invited him to take a seat on the couch.

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know,” I repeated, “but you’d like to know, and in fact I bet there is a part of you that already knows.”

He nodded his head slowly and crossed his arms in front of his chest.

“In fact, I’m really excited about working with you, and you ought to be excited as well. You ought to be really excited because you possess a very powerful capability, and that powerful capability is the power of your mind. You told me that the reason you lost those two matches last week was purely mental, right?”

“Yeah. I always lose two in a row.”

“Oh, so in the past you have always lost two in a row.” Tim grinned. “Well, if your mind is so strong that it can influence you to wrestle that way, and you are convinced that your mind is that strong and it was all due to your mind…”

“Yeah.”

Then that same mind can be used in other ways, more positive ways, since your mind is so strong. And you ought to find that very, very exciting as you begin to wonder about how you can begin to use your strong mind in other ways to support you. So why don’t you begin this shift now by telling me what is going on.”

“I feel so much pressure, like everybody is watching me. I’ve been on the team since seventh grade, so people expect a lot from me.” Indeed, he had wrestled extremely well on the junior varsity team as a seventh grader, and had done well as an eighth and ninth grader on Varsity in a weight class where many of the competitors were juniors and seniors.

“You feel a lot of pressure, and you’d like to feel more relaxed when you are wrestling.”

“Yeah. I feel like I can beat anybody, really. In practice, I wrestle great and I feel so relaxed. I do really well against the best guys on the team.”

“You do great in practice and feel relaxed, and in competition, you don’t feel relaxed but would like to feel relaxed, so sometimes you wrestle great, and sometimes not. What’s the difference? Why don’t you feel relaxed all the time?”

“In practice there is no pressure. It doesn’t matter.”

“There is no pressure, and it doesn’t matter in practice, and sometimes you feel it does matter in a match.”

“Yes,” Tim agreed.

“So tell me about your best match. A time when you felt unstoppable, where you wrestled at your absolute best.”

Tim smiled broadly as he told me who it was.

“Ok, so against him, you wrestled your best. Why?”

“I knew he was good, he has a reputation, but I just went out there. I don’t know.”

“I’d like you to remember that match now, and take as long as you need to recall everything you can about that match. You may find you remember it better with your eyes open or closed. I don’t really know whether you will remember more with your eyes open or closed, but either way really experience it and feel what it feels like to be in that match now, wrestling at your best.”

…quick note from me- this is a perfect example of Guided Visualization and it’s application to wrestling.

Tim closed his eyes.

“Are you there,” I inquired.

Tim nodded his head slowly. “Yeah,” he breathed, his voice soft and slow.

“How does it feel to be there? How does your body feel?”

“Warm, ready.”

“Warm, ready. Do you feel tension anywhere?”

“No.”

“No, ok. And do you feel that warm and ready feeling equally in your entire body, or is it different in certain locations?”

“Warm, like a machine.”

“Warm like a machine. Oiled and smooth,” I suggested.

“Yeah.”

“Ok, and as you are in the match now, what are you noticing?”

“Just him.”

“You are noticing just him. Is he in color or black and white?”

“Color.”

I took notes on what Tim was saying. “That’s right, he is in color, and you are feeling warm and ready, only focusing on your opponent, who is in color. Is he dim, bright or normal?”

“He is bright, but it is like I’m watching it. Like I’m in it, and he is bright, but everything else is dim.”

“Ok, he is bright, but everything around it is dim. Is the action fast-paced, slow motion, or normal paced?”

“The boring parts are fast-forwarded, sped up, but the good parts are slow motion.”

A picture from a Freestyle match. The wrestler in the blue singlet is lifting the wrestler in the red singlet. The red wrestler is folded over the back of the blue wrestler and is about to get thrown to his back.

“Ok, so the boring parts are fast-forwarded, sped up and the good parts are in slow motion, feeling warm, like a machine, bright, and in front of you in color, and dim all around.” I waited a few moments. “What are you hearing?”

He shakes his head before saying anything. “Nothing.”

“You are hearing nothing. Are you saying anything to yourself?”

“Wrestle smart,” he said quietly and confidently.

“Wrestle smart. Ok. So fast-forward to the end of the match, to the point where your hand is being raised. Where you shake hands, and the ref raises your hand. What do you do or say?”

He grins, and makes a fist with his raised hand. “Yes!”

“When you feel all those wonderful and powerful and relaxed feelings y ou grin, make a fist and raise your hand.”

“I’m there. I feel everything, oh man,” Tim laughed.

“You are there, feeling great, having wrestled your best. Ok, you can put your hand down now.”

“I don’t want to. It feels great.”

A picture of JP O'Connor from Harvard getting his hand raised after winning the NCAA National Championship in wrestling.

“It does feel great, doesn’t it? Yes, it does, and you can learn to get that same feeling back at any time, so as you drop your hand you can remember that you can get that feeling back any time you wish as you learn how to do that,” I offered.

Tim dropped his hand.

“That’s right, and so you learn how to get that feeling back now, let’s go back to a different match. And the different match is one of the ones you just wrestled.”

Tim’s body changed visibly. He slumped against the couch and dropped his head almost into his chest.

“Can you go back there and remember it?”

He nodded his head slowly.

“So as you are back there, in that match, what do you feel? Hot, cold, or neutral?”

“Cool.”

“Cool, ok. What else?”

“Like a coil, like a spring, ready to burst. Like I want to hit something.”

“Like a coil, like a spring ready to burst. Like you want to hit something. Ok, and are you in the picture or watching it?”

“I’m in it, but it’s like it’s happening to me, like it’s not real.”

“It’s not real, and is it bright or dim?”

“It’s normal.”

“It’s normal, and can you see other things besides your opponent?”

“Yeah, everybody in the stands. I can see the looks on their faces.”

“Anyone in particular?”

He shook his head.

“Ok, what do their faces look like?”

“They are disappointed, like I let them down.”

“They are disappointed, and you don’t want them to be, you don’t want to let them down.”

“No.”

“That is certainly understandable that you would want to do your best. Is the action fast-paced, normal, or slow motion?”

“Normal.”

“Normal, and are you saying anything to yourself?”

“Jeez, like I can’t believe this is happening.”

“Jeez. Can you hear anything else?”

“Yeah, the crowd yelling.”

“Can you make out what they are saying?”

“No.”

“No. Ok. This picture isn’t as much fun to watch, is it?”

Tim shook his head. “No.” He opened his eyes.

“What is the worst movie you ever watched?”

“The worst, I don’t know.”

“Ok, not the worst, maybe, but one that was pretty bad.”

A picture of the DVD cover to the movie Dude Where's My Car?

“Dude, Where’s My Car?”

“Dude, Where’s My Car? Pretty bad, huh?”

“Yeah,” he laughed.

“Did you see it in a theater or rent it on video?”

“Rented it.”

“I see. Did you watch the entire movie?”

“No, about half.”

“Only half. Would you watch it again?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“I didn’t like it.”

“You didn’t like it, and it wouldn’t make sense to keep playing a tape over and over that you didn’t like, would it?”

He agreed that it wouldn’t.

“That’s right. So tell me, why is it that you believe you have always lost two matches in a row?”

“I just do it. If I lose one then I’ll lose another one right after it. It always happens.”

“It has in the past always happened, and a lot of things that happened in the past don’t happen now, and you can think of a lot of examples of that. Even something like wearing a diaper; that used to happen but doesn’t happen now, so what was true before really isn’t true for you now, is it? So tell me, what did you used to think about after you lost the first match?”

“I felt pressure, and thought about how bad I did in the first one.”

“You played it over and over in your mind,” I said.

“Yeah.”

“Dude, Where’s My Car?”

“Dude, Where’s My Car?” Tim laughed.

“Where is it? What would happen if every time you began to replay old tapes that you didn’t particularly like, for some unknown reason you remembered ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’ and began to laugh and relax and feel better for some strange reason. I wonder what that would be like, and you can wonder about that too, even though you know how to do that, even if you think you don’t know, because you have had that experience so may times. You have had that experience of getting something stuck in your head that reminds you of something funny, and you just laugh, and in fact you can’t help but laughing because it strikes you as funny, like playing stupid old tapes.”

A picture of the 2 male actors from the movie Dude Where's My Car looking at each other and smiling.

Tim nodded his head in agreement, and in confusion.

“And now that that is done, let’s talk about anchoring. You know what it is even if the word is unfamiliar to you. Do you have a song that as soon as you hear it reminds you of someone you once went out with?”

He nodded.

“And hearing that song puts you in a great mood or a lousy mood without any conscious thought on your part?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s right, so you already know what anchors are, and in fact, already use them when you win. You make a fist and say ‘Yes!’ to yourself. So because your mind is so strong this will work very well for you. Let’s make that connection even stronger now. What I would like you do is go back to that first match we spoke about. And as you feel very strongly and completely all those positive feelings, when they get to their peak, I want you to make your fist in the exact same way as you do when the ref raises your hand, and say ‘Yes!” in the exact same way. Understand?”

Tim agreed that he did.

“So go back to that match now, feeling warm, like a machine, where it’s bright on you and him, and dim around, and you are saying to yourself wrestle smart.”

As Tim replayed the scene over and over, he squeezed his fist repeatedly. “Man, I’m back there,” he said beaming. “This is awesome, I feel exactly like I did.”

“Feeling exactly like you did now, double that feeling. Feel twice as good now, as you make your fist and say, ‘Yes!’ feeling that completely and strongly.”

We repeated this process a few more times. “Now, I’d like you to stand up. Shake your body out, and sit back down.”

Tim complied.

“What did you have for lunch today?”

“Soup.”

“What kind of soup?”

“Chicken broth. I need to make weight.”

“You need to make weight. Ok, now I want you to make your fist and say ‘Yes!’ just like you did before. Fire off your anchor and see how you feel.”

Tim did it. His eyes narrowed, and a cocky grin spread over his face.

“How do you feel?”

“Great. I’m back there.”

“That’s right, you’re back there, and you can go back there feeling relaxed and strong at any time. So what I’d like you to do is every time you feel great, whether it is in practice or in a match where you wrestle your best, or in another situation which evokes those same positive feelings, I want you to fire off that anchor by making a fist and saying ‘Yes!’ Each time reinforce those positive feelings, those relaxed feelings, building them up over time so that they are so strong. Then, when you are warming up, fire it off. When you are walking out onto the mat, fire it off. When you are between periods, fire it off. Then, when you win and feel great, reinforce it again, refresh it. Does this make sense?”

“Yes, thank you.”

Tim was set to wrestle in the county tournament the next day. He wrestled extremely well in the competition; he was as good as I had seen him. He lost in the semi-finals to a very experience and talented wrestler, and then proceeded in the next round to trounce his opponent 16-1. So much for the “two in a row” curse.

 

…I thought this was a great passage that would really hit home with a lot of the people who read this blog.

If it did and you’re interested in learning more ways to turn yourself into a mental monster then:

1. CLICK HERE to visit KevinSeaman.net and pick up a copy of his book and/or CDs.

2. CLICK HERE to download a copy of his book on iTunes.

I am required by law to state whether or not I am receiving compensation for promoting The Winning Mindset. I am not. All I am doing is simply trying to make you aware of a system that’s had a profound impact on my performance that I think you too will greatly benefit from.

Related Posts:

What I Learned From GSP

A Mental Lesson That Slapped Me In The Face

Too Focused On Being A Winner??

The Secret To Success

A picture of Kyle Dake and Dickie White.
Hi, I’m Dickie (the author of this blog). Here I am with my good buddy, Kyle Dake. While he doesn't have a nice coat like me, he is pretty good at wrestling. Here's what he said about my training system:

Before I began lifting using Dickie's system my wrestling skills were getting slightly better. I've now been lifting under his guidance for more than 5 months and I have begun to dominating ALL of my competition. At first I had little faith in Dickie and his program, but now I would run into a wall if he told me I would get stronger! I know it sounds insane, but I would. The bottom line is Dickie is an expert and knows what he is talking about. If you want to defeat those kids whom you've always lost to and reach a level you never thought possible, I suggest you start lifting using Dickie's system immediately.

-Kyle Dake, 4X NCAA Division 1 National Champion
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