High School Wrestlers and Handling Adversity

Posted on Posted in Coaches, Mental Training

I’ve been conducting an experiment...

...helping wrestlers evaluate their mental game in five different areas by taking my Peak Performance Evaluation.cs-lewis-adversity

I have completed several hundred evaluations and over the next few posts I’ll tell you the trends I identified in Jr. High and High School wrestlers.

Here we go…

78.8% of respondents scored the highest in “Handling Adversity.”

I wasn’t really surprised by this because someone that can’t handle much adversity won’t be wrestling very long!

As I looked at the results and individual answers, I started to think maybe this part of the evaluation should be called “Accepting Adversity”

For instance...

Question: “I accept obstacles and adversity are necessary in order to achieve excellence.”

Answer: “almost always” in nearly 100% of those that scored high in this part of the assessment.

Now I have the luxury of knowing quite a few of these athletes, or at least have seen them wrestle on numerous occasions.

Here’s what I realized…

I know they don’t “Handle Adversity” as well as they “Accept Adversity”.

Here’s what I mean,

Accepting adversity means they know and understand it’s part of wrestling. Not much comes easy in this sport and you can figure that out pretty quickly.

But I’ve observed a lot of athletes that lose in the quarters and never recover from the loss. In way too many cases they lose the next match and are eliminated.

So they may have accepted the adversity but they didn’t handle it very well.

Another case I see a lot…

An athlete gets a bad draw in the bracket and so they have a tough or highly ranked guy first or second round.

They accept it, what choice do they have? But you can see right away in their attitude and actions that their hopes for a great tournament were just squashed.

And it plays out just that way.

The truth is accepting adversity as part of wrestling is the first step, learning how to handle it is a whole different matter.

I think the wrestling community does a great job letting everyone know how tough a sport we’re in.

In fact I would say we wear it as a badge.

We love to talk about how tough it is and how most kids are looking for something easier.

I think the culture of “we are tough” attracts athletes that want to prove they are tough.

And that’s a good thing. We are attracting athletes that can accept adversity.

But do you have the tools to handle adversity?

So that no matter what happens (or doesn’t happen) you can wrestle at peak performance every time?

As Edwin Louis Cole said, “You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.”

Until next time,


PS: What do you think about handling adversity? I’d love to hear from you.

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