By: John Klessinger, Wrestling Coach - South River High School (MD)
Originally Published in: A Coach's Manual
Provided by: Championship Productions
"Confidence is a very fragile thing, and it certainly is something that has to start with your mental approach and your ability to respond and stay focused and not allow negative thoughts to enter into your own mind. When you're successful, it's easier to expect success. All of a sudden, it's not there; it becomes more of a challenge." - Bill Cowher, Super Bowl Champion Football Coach, Pittsburgh Steelers
Like many of these topics, a few pages will not accurately convey the importance of mindset training. Being a former high-level high school and Division I college wrestler, I have learned the importance of developing the right mindset in my athletes. Unfortunately, I did not learn it as a competitor. I have learned it as a coach. In the 1990s, coaches did not spend much time discussing mindset with their teams. We didn't discuss goal-setting, self-talk, or any specifics to the mental side of sports. It was believed - like being tough - you were either mentally tough or not. It wasn't until the 1980s that the U.S. Olympic Association began incorporating mental training with their athletes. My failures and disappointments as an athlete led me down the road to figuring out why some can perform to a high level when the pressure is on, and some do not.
Through 20 years of relentless study, reading hundreds of books, listening to dozens of audio programs, and hearing countless successful people talk about the subject of performance, I have narrowed it down to a shortlist of effective strategies to develop mental toughness.
Almost daily, I spend a few minutes discussing the right mindset for success. I share stories of success. I make photocopies of useful articles I've read and flood them with belief throughout the practice. We have finished every practice for the past 18 years, saying "believe" when breaking out the practice. It is a tradition and a subtle reminder that "belief" is necessary to be successful.