I was in the gym today when U2’s classic, “With or Without You,” came on through my headphones. As I was listening, I heard the line, “you give it all but I want more,” for at least the 100th time in my life. Then I started thinking of how applicable that line is in the realm of sports and particular wrestling, grappling, jiu jitsu, and MMA.
Very few athletes know what it means to give it all. It takes something extra to know when it is time try your hardest and empty your tank in a six or seven minute match. Of course if you are winning by ten with a minute left, when the whistle sounds you won’t feel completely spent. However, you want to be prepared for that match when you actually do have to empty your tank to win a tight match.
I invite coaches to first help their wrestlers find out what giving it everything they have really feels like. In a high school wrestling room that might mean when over half the team begins to complain about how hard you’re working them. In a college wrestling room it might happen after half of your wrestlers throw up in the bucket on the side of the mat. And they’re not throwing up because of the junk food they ate, but because they are pushing their bodies to their limits. Once your wrestlers see what it feels like to give it every they have and they see that they can take it, they will be more willing to bring themselves to their own personal limits in a match.
Now this is where the U2 song comes into the story. You tell your wrestlers after they are mentally drained and think their bodies are spent, “You gave it your all, but I want more. Get up and keep going.” Very few and by that I mean less than 1% of wrestlers have the ability of pushing their limits consistently. That is your job as a coach to help your wrestlers see that they can do it, and not only that but they can go even further.
A word of warning. Do not try this kind of practice in the middle of the season. Something like this is best done in the preseason. In college, that month of practice before your first competition date. Also you have to understand that some kids are not as tough as others. They will think their limit is a lot earlier than what it really is. You have to make a judgement call on wrestlers that give up on themselves. No one responds the same way to this kind of treatment. So be careful, but not too careful…wrestling is not for the timid. Let me rephrase, a timid person can start wrestling but when they are finished they will no longer contain that character trait.
Remember the tag line of this blog: Where dedicated wrestlers become champions.