Pain, Injury, and Adversity – Motivation by Mark Schwab

If you’re a competitor, you will have many aches, pains, and injuries. That’s the way it is. It’s a tough and often unfair world; write your congressman/woman. If you only want to compete when you feel first-class, then you are in the wrong sport, unrealistic, and you belong on Gilligan’s island. No sympathy for aches and pains; see the trainer and deal with it.

About Mark SchwabAthletes consistently compete and are successful with aches, pains, and injuries. Many athletes, unfortunately, do not know the difference and sometimes request not to compete because their uncomfortable. I’m not being nonsensical, turning my back to an injury, and I don’t want to injure an athlete further. The reality is everybody has injuries, aches, pains. You’re not unique, alone, or an exception.

There is a big difference between what is normal and what is often necessary. You have to get beyond the temporary. Every coach in every sport can relate to this topic. I have seen it many times as a way for the athlete to get out of a situation. I have seen athletes fake to the point of concocting stories of hospital visits and stays and upon further investigation, it was all fabricated. I have seen an athlete fake being on crutches for weeks only to find him sprinting up and down the basketball court when he thought I had left. I have heard athletes say they’re going to hurt themselves if they have to make weight, only to find out they wanted to get drunk instead. And I have heard an athlete tell me his rabbit named “Keith” yes Keith, ate his alarm clock, and that’s why he didn’t make it to the weigh-in. I had one guy, twice, not show up to weigh-ins and now he’s coaching; what’s he telling the athletes? It only stands to reason that coaches can be skeptical of certain athletes.

Most coaches will tell you it’s easy to spot an athlete who is planning an alibi or taking an easy way out. When we’re around athletes on a daily basis and for extended periods of time, we’re aware who is finding a way out and who is legit. We learn a lot through an athlete’s practice room habits, responsibility or lack of, and how he has previously handled injury, aches, and pains. We learn the most by what type of an investment the athlete has made.

High investment = high tolerance and competes nearly all the time.

Low investment = low tolerance, misses a lot of competition, practice time, and usually looking for outs.

Words mean nothing; it’s all about behavior.

Adversity – Does it really matter circumstances are difficult? Why shouldn’t they be?

Many athletes want to look like a knight but don’t want to bleed like one.

There is a whole other world of toughness within our sport – athletes competing with major injuries and go on to compete and win in spite. It’s not the severity of the injury that really matters as much as it is the individual’s desire. Now, I am not talking about being ridiculous and putting the athletes in danger. Don’t take it personal and think I’m talking about you, although I am.

Every time you step out in competition, there is an element of danger. If you want safety, then competition is not for you. What I am talking about is pushing through soreness, fatigue, pain, and being uncomfortable. Many athletes think they have to feel grand or something is wrong, it’s not. A true competitor is willing to give up comfort. News Flash! Everyone is hurt, sore, tired, has school work, cuts weight, relationship struggles, sleep deprivation, and on and on. Make a firm decision that you will put it on the line regardless. Make a decision that you will emerge the victor or take your whipping, but you won’t evade your responsibility because you don’t feel ideal. A lot of times we can also trace our lack of feeling “ideal” to previous decisions we made, responsibilities we did not fulfill, and corners we previously cut.

Boldness is the first, second, and third most important thing. When you dare nothing, expect nothing. Remember that safety goes against every great dream. Most will turn back at the true point of testing, regardless of the arena. However, sometimes you must cut the lines that tie you to the dock. You have to move beyond the calm waters.

We can’t all be champions, but we can fight like one. If we can’t win the blue ribbon then we get the red one. And if we can’t get the red one, then we can still feel proud, responsible, and distance ourselves from regret and diminishing our self esteem.

Injuries, soreness, aches, fatigue will challenge you but don’t have to stop you. You can’t only compete when you know you’re going to win, or feel 100%. How you feel does not matter. You can tolerate being uncomfortable. You can still compete! You can still succeed and you may have to compete for your championship on a day you feel at 60%.

Discipline, perseverance, delayed gratification, commitment, responsibility, and personal satisfaction are qualities you potentially take from this sport and dominate in other areas of your life. I believe the efforts and commitments you make during your athletic and academic career tell a lot about your future efforts or lack of. If you’re full of fish stories, how you caught a whopper and a rabbit named Keith ate your clock, than this sport will mistreat and harass you. Ask yourself, are you really made up of what you want others to think you are? I would venture to say most are scared or doubtful to a degree. There is no shame in this; we all are! The difference is those who persist/proceed in spite. Remember, if we threw all of our adversities in a pile with others, we would gladly grab our own back. Others have been through what we’re going through and “triumphed,” so can you. Others are often wrong about us, and we’re often wrong about ourselves. You are able to transcend any real or imagined limitation; this starts right now!

The Guillotine will be featuring motivation by Mark Schwab throughout the season. Look for Mark’s advice every other Monday.

Mark Schwab is an assistant coach at the University of Northern Iowa. Schwab has a Masters Degree with an emphasis on Sport Psychology and is currently writing a book entitled “Opportunities to Succeed-Common Sense but Not Common Practice.” Schwab also gives a 40 minute presentation on opportunities to succeed. To know more you can email him at for details.

Would you like to receive the latest Minnesota wrestling news in your inbox?