Recently I was at one of the local high school wrestling tournaments watching
some of the athletes in my club. I was pointing out various things to them as we
watched some of the matches. There was one match in particular that was very
interesting to me. The two athletes were wrestling for placing at the tournament
and they were both very skilled.
Athlete A was very talented on his feet and scored a beautiful lifting
takedown and near fall points putting him up 5-0 within the first 30 seconds.
Athlete B was a very talented mat wrestler and he proceeded to capture the top
wrestlers arm and leg and Granby roll in order to score a reversal. Athlete A
had to fight for all he was worth to avoid giving up points on the Granby, his
arm looked like it was getting pretty tired and he was in danger of going over
on several occasions. Finally he did get reversed and Athlete B was able to
control the end of the period on top. The period ended and the referee proceeded
to the coin flip to determine the starting position of the second period.
The coin came up in favor of Athlete A. He deferred his decision until the
third period so Athlete B was able to make his choice. Athlete B chose the down
position again and began to work on his Granby roll. The second period was
basically a replay of the end of the first. Athlete B caused Athlete A major
fits and created very dangerous situations for Athlete A. Athlete A narrowly
avoided being reversed multiple times and the score remained unchanged.
At the start of the third period it was Athlete A’s choice of position. For
some reason he didn’t know exactly where he wanted to be, a common problem among
high school athletes, consequently his coaches gave him the most common answer
that coaches give and told him to choose the bottom position. Their assumption
was that their athlete would be able to escape and gain a point.
I quickly pointed out some very important information to my own athletes as
this was a very opportune moment to learn something that most people clearly
overlook. It was simply using solid strategy which Athlete A and his coaches
seemed to know very little about.
Now you may be asking yourself what’s wrong with choosing down? He got a
takedown easy enough he should be able to escape and do it again.
I reminded my guys that Athlete A had scored 5 relatively easy points from
the standing position and that he had to fight his butt off the rest of the
first round and all of the second as soon as they got on the mat. Athlete B was
crafty on top and all signs pointed to him being a good pinner if he got the
opportunity. I pointed out that Athlete A was giving up his best option in place
of one that was potentially dangerous to him.
For the 1 point that he and his coaches hoped to gain they overlooked that he
would now be giving his opponent the opportunity to score from the top position.
With only two minutes left Athlete A was leaving himself open to a huge upset if
he made any mistakes.
Athlete B didn’t disappoint in his ability to give Athlete A’s coaches a
coronary attack. Athlete A was immediately put into a leg ride, flattened out
and cranked on for the next minute and a half. He was only lucky in that Athlete
B couldn’t quite seal the deal with his turns. Athlete A by sheer force of will
and strength managed to get away with very short time remaining and then added
one last easy takedown to win the match by a large margin of 7-2 that belied the
actual closeness of the contest.
I told my athletes that rather than always taking the common path they must
pay attention to the match itself. They have to be in tune with their opponent’s
strengths and weaknesses.
If Athlete A would have thought it through for even a few seconds he could
have chosen neutral rather than deferring until the later round. He could have
scored another takedown to back-points combo and put the match completely out of
reach if not winning it outright by a pin.
Instead he made choices that would most surely have gotten him beaten if his
opponent were even 10% stronger. Much of what saved Athlete A from going over on
several occasions was his physical strength. At any point in the first and
second periods he could have let go and just given Athlete B the escape and
started working his takedowns, the ‘Catch and Release’ game of takedown and let
go to avoid tough mat wrestling situations. All 7 of his points came via the
takedown. This would have been his best option.
We had a discussion of the why’s and why not’s related to this match and I
could tell what I had just shared was a new concept to these young athletes. It
started them on a new path and I could tell that their minds were contemplating
the new found power in this ability to strategize. I could tell that they were
ready to start thinking and acting in a new and more productive way on the mat.
Your toughest opponent may not necessarily be your opponent. It might be the
way you’re approaching you opponent. Your real problem might not be the problem
at all, maybe it’s the way you’re trying to solve it.
Whether you’re on the mat or you’re grappling with a day to day situation
take a moment and take a look at “where your points are coming from”. Determine
what your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses are. Most importantly determine
what your own strengths and weaknesses are. Take a look at how you can leverage
your abilities to succeed.
If you start doing this your ability to strategize will increase and you will
begin to see new and better solutions for your situation. You will begin to find
ways to succeed where before you had none. The ability to strategize and develop
solutions will become a great asset and it will help you on to the ultimate
successes that you are looking for in life.