Message from John Carter

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Monday, August 6, 2012

On Being Tough

What does it take to be a tough guy? 
In a few weeks I am going to be going to Atlanta.  I’ve set up a couple of matches, and one of them is against a guy who has mats and who has wrestled in college.  He’s actually smaller than me – weighs less and is shorter – but lists himself as being very good at freestyle wrestling.
For some reason I’ve let this match get inside my head.  I haven’t even gotten on a plane, let alone stepped onto the mats, and I’m beaten. 
I think the fact that I did so poorly a few weeks ago has made me sort of gun shy, so I got to thinking: what do you have to do to get mentally tough? 
I think you guys know that I work out.  So, that’s not the issue.  But all the lifting and sweating in the world does not make you a great wrestler – or even a decent wrestler. 
Of course, practice would help.  But I don’t have anyone to practice with and no place to even run through drills on my own.  So, all I’m left with is how to make myself mentally tough.
I need to step out there with an attitude that I can win. 
So, again, I ask, how do you acquire that mind set?
Well, like most Americans, I turned to the internet.  And as luck would have it, I found a document put out by Penn State (okay, not great with the football thing – but they are National Champions at wrestling) and here are the psychological characteristics they say are associated with a mentally tough athlete:
1.       Having an unshakeable belief in your ability to achieve competition goals.
2.       Having an insatiable desire and the internalized motivation to succeed.
3.       Having the ability to bounce back from performance setbacks.
4.       Remaining focused on the task at hand (the match).
5.       Not being adversely affected by the performance of others.
6.       Thriving on the pressure.
I’m not sure that I have an unshakable belief in my ability.  If I wrestled more often and got to actually practice holds and moves, then I might have a little more confidence in that realm.  But, for this match, what I’ve got to do is convince myself that even if he takes me down, again and again, once I get him on the mats, I can work him over and pin him.  Wrestling is as much strategy as strength.  If this guy is really as good as he says, then I may have only my sprawls to protect me from his attacks on my legs.  But, once I get my arms around him, I’m not letting go.
One thing I do have is the desire to succeed.  I feel that I have bent a lot of my life’s energy toward making myself into a wrestler.  Yeah, I’m not a kid anymore.  But I’m not dead either.  I am in shape and I have the cardio.
I think this post addresses number three.  I haven’t bounced back from my most recent setback.  But I’m determined to do it.  The Penn State document stressed the need to think positively – to develop a positive attitude.  You CAN do whatever you put your mind to.  That is what I am working on.  If nothing else, I will be a fun person to wrestle.
Number four is something I’ll address when I’m on the mats.  Number five concerns not only the way we react to how others perform but how others “talk.”  People sometimes say things that can dent your confidence, and that’s where being tough mentally really needs to kick in.  I should mention that I get a lot of positive feedback from guys because of this blog – and I am extremely grateful for that.  I need to keep that in mind and use it to drive me forward.
Number 6 is all about enjoying the wrestling and enjoying the people you’re with.  Yeah, there’s competition (sometimes) but there’s also camaraderie and friendship, and often a great organism to boot!
Okay, so I’m getting mentally tough.  I’m concentrating on the positive and I’m thinking about how I’ll use the skills I have to do as well as I can.  So, if a sawed-off little punk like me can do this, how about you?  Are YOU ready to wrestle? 

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