Sports, and I think especially wrestling, can be used as a huge catalysts to prepare young athletes for the realities of life. Or, it can be a great way to teach them how to give up, not set high goals, make excuses etc. The choice, especially in the early years, is up to the parents as to what their child takes away from wrestling.
Wrestling is a great sport to teach athletes self-discipline, commitment, and mental toughness. More often than I like to admit, I see parents, and in some cases coaches, letting athletes skip practice the day after a tournament because they are tired or sore.
I hope that doesn't mean the parent or coach calls off work because they are tired or sore!
When you allow athletes to beg off practice or training because they are tired, sore, or some other flimsy excuse, you are undermining their self-confidence.
Kids gain or lose confidence from those in authority such as parents or coaches. When you don't show them you are confident that they can suck it up and practice - the message is they are weak and fragile.
Newsflash: No young boy, young man, old man (or any athlete for that matter) wants to think they are weak and fragile so don't send the message their way by letting them be weak and fragile.
Obviously, I'm not talking about being stupid and forcing an athlete to practice while injured etc. But I am talking about being at the practice injured to observe.
Are you helping your athlete connect the dots by putting their sport, actions, and results in perspective about real life?
They lose a tough match or fall short of their goal.
Let them know everyone loses once in while and usually more than they want in life. Share with them how you have suffered losses at work your family etc. Help them see things don't always go the way we want but how we react to it will determine how long it keeps us down.
Acknowledge the pain loss or mistakes cause but don't make it the focal point. What you focus on becomes bigger. Focus on the lesson learned and the fact that one loss doesn't make you a loser.
Too many times I see parents allowing their athlete to wallow in loses for extended periods of time instead of encouraging them to reset, learn from the loss and work to get better.
Being a mentally tough wrestler is something that must be learned and applied. Unfortunately many well meaning parents and coaches try to protect athletes from the realities of sports.
There is a difference between protecting them from the realities of sports and life and helping them put it in perspective.
Check out this video of Coach Jeff Walz as he brings up some life realities after his team suffered a loss.