“Last year I enrolled at ESM after wrestling certifications so I couldn’t wrestle during the season, but I still went to every practice.”
I asked him, “What do you mean you went to every practice?
Why would you attend practice if you knew you couldn’t wrestle in the season?”
His answer floored me.
He said, “Because for the first time in my life I knew what it was like to be part of a family. My wrestling coaches and teammates make me feel part of something. They were there for me. When they found out about my situation, they raised money for me through a tournament – and they never told anyone. I would do anything for them.”
He went on to share with me that his goal is to ‘just win 1 match in his high school wrestling career.”
Now, to you and I, that goal sounds like it comes from an underachiever – but if you ever knew his circumstances, you would understand how overachieving and insurmountable “just 1 win” seems to him.
I was once told –
The type of wrestler I was,
Will be the kind of man I will be…
What makes one wrestler fight and another wrestler give up?
Is it talent?
It is not talent; it is something much more reliable than talent.
It it training?
It is not training; it is something much more valuable than training.
Is it experience?
It is not experience; it is something much more invisible than experience.
It is will.
And it can’t be taught, only discovered.
Thirty-three years later, what we understood now, that we didn’t quite comprehend then was it was the losses and not the wins that best prepared us for life.
They taught us how to handle and come back from adversity.
How to fight, and how to win.
For us, but most importantly for our families.
- The Pursuit,
- It Has to Hurt
- Be Incapable of Discouragement
- The 2% Toll
Have you ever wondered why two wrestlers can wrestle multiple times with drastically different results?
Or why –
wrestler A beat wrestler B,
wrestler B beat wrestler C,
but wrestler A lost to wrestler C?
The answer is hidden in plain sight.
Styles make matches.
Choosing to match your style versus your opponents, to create and wrestle in advantaged positions and avoid wrestling in disadvantaged positions, is the most underutilized strategic asset in wrestling.
The wrestler who wrestles in his advantage position, for a greater amount of time in the match, will have the higher probability of winning.
That is the reason why two wrestlers wrestle multiple times with drastically different outcomes, and why the logic doesn’t hold that if one wrestler beat another he should be able to beat the wrestler his prior opponent beat.
If you watch and research matches between the same wrestler’s you will see, more times than not, the reason there was a different outcome in each match was that one wrestler was able to wrestle in his advantage position in one match and was not able to do so in the other.
A wrestlers’ job is to understand which position is his advantage position versus each one of his opponents.
In which position the highest probability of scoring points as quickly as possibly exists.
And to get to that position.
I believe you don’t get to that position by chance,
I believe you get to that position by choice.
We have all seen the contest where a person in a bank vault has 360 seconds to grab as much money as possible.
If it were you, would you stop grabbing money after you had “just enough” in your hands?
Would you stop grabbing money when there were only 60 seconds left?
Would you ever be too tired to keep grabbing more money?
Because the reward of what that money can do for you overrides any of the reasons to stop.
A wrestling match is the same type of contest.
You need to have the same kind of mindset.
To a wrestler, points are money.
In each match, you have 360 seconds to score as many points as possible.
When the whistle blows, the allure of scoring points must override any and all obstacles.
Have a safe lead?
Need to score more points.
Have short time?
Need to score more points.
Have a fear of losing?
Need to score more points.
As like with the money grab, the only time you stop scoring points is when there is no time left in the contest.
For those rare wrestlers who strive to be great, they take no solace in moral victories or in losing close matches.
They see things in black and white, not in shades.
Black is losing.
White is winning.
There is no gray.
“You can’t stop now – you are right there.”
He muttered, “I’m done.”
I said, “You need to do it again.”
“I don’t want to do it again, I’m done,” he stated vehemently.
“I never said this was going to be easy, I said it was going to be worth it.”
“Why do you think some wrestlers All-American, and some don’t? What is the difference between the two?” I asked him.
He shot back at me a vicious blank stare, with a quivering lip.
“The difference is the wrestlers that All-American figure it out, they find a way,” I tell him.
“When it means that much to you, and you want to figure it out, to find a way, pick up your shoes and let’s do it again,” I said to him, and I walked away.
Just before I got to the area of the hallway where I needed to make a right turn to be out of his view, I glanced over my shoulder and I saw him bend over and pick up his shoes.
He was ready to do it again.
All 40+ singles can be found in
Capturing the People and Culture of the Greatest Sport on Earth.
All of JohnA Passaro’s published works are also available at these fine online stores: