I Want to be a State Champion – Motivation by Mark Schwab

A detailed outline to be a state champion

It’s early September and school is just beginning. This is exciting for many reasons. The leading reason for enthusiasm is your anticipation and passion to win a state wrestling championship. Every day between now and then is an opportunity to make your dream happen and a day closer to your championship. You have just the correct amount of days to bring the best you together. Every day between now and then is necessary, take nothing for granted, and extract the value from each day whether it’s a day of labor or a day of rest.

About Mark Schwab Your preparation to win your state championship begins with making an unshakeable decision that you’re going to give yourself every opportunity to succeed. Your decision is a commitment and there’s a high correlation between decision makers and achievers. Your decision is an unyielding mindset and a major player in reaching your goals. There’s confidence in making decisions because you’re taking control vs. waiting, in addition, firm decisions can be more effective than talent.

Give quality thought about what a decision really means. Your decision is rock solid and single-minded until your state championship is achieved. At times, you will likely have doubts, hardships, fatigue, sickness, loss, anger, sadness, fear, etc. Through all this, you continue to persevere towards your decision, commitment, and goal – state wrestling championship.

Once the decision to win your state championship is established, write down your goal – State Champion! The most important component in your goal setting is the actions and behaviors you’ll engage in on a daily basis to accomplish your goal? This will have many parts and requires you to study and research. Sit down and give quality thought along with input from trusted individuals to the behaviors and actions you must take be a state champion. You likely will not accomplish it in one setting, but you will begin to narrow and focus, and this is a necessary beginning. You will likely be adjusting the actions until you win your championship. Also of importance, schedule the accomplishment of your goal. You know the dates of your qualifying and state tournaments. This keeps you aware and gives you a sense of urgency, not a sense that brings pressure, fear or anxiety, rather a sense that your days come and go quickly and must be used sensibly. This also allows you to see and feel your progress. Above all, keep it simple! Simplicity is potent.

Self-talk (thinking) is the leading role in your confidence. Confidence drastically influences the quality of your performance. If you’re serious about being a state champion, then monitoring and improving your self-talk is essential.

Your self-talk cannot be stopped but it can be changed. This requires you to pay attention to your thoughts especially when you feel doubt, fear, anxiety, fatigue, and stress, etc. Identify areas in your daily life, training, before-during- and after competition, etc. where negative, doubts and defeating self-talk make their appearance. Then you can begin to shepherd and change your perspective. Train yourself to think more efficiently by caring for, updating, developing and dedicate to this ongoing assignment that eventually pays in gold.

Often as competition nears, many feel anxiety, nerves, doubts, fear, etc. This is normal and a vital opportunity to observe your thoughts. Keep thoughts light, positive, loose and in perspective. You can substantially improve your thoughts and outlook in a short period of time just by awareness and making the vow to take responsibility for your growth and progress. Keep an eye on your thinking in all situations. Learn to notice and manage your self-talk and you’ll manage your performance. Management leads to consistency and consistency is major cog in the wheel.

Manipulated breathing

Your self-talk (thinking) and breathing are closely related. Ideally, by observing and manipulating your breathing, you’ll not only manage but you enhance your thinking and performance. In situations where you’re negative, fatigued, doubtful, etc. awareness is the key to benefit from manipulated breathing. The most significant practice to remember and apply is taking deep and long breaths in and out, rise and fall and SLOW your breathing down. When you slow your breathing down, you can benefit in the following ways.

  • Relax – conserve energy
  • Recover
  • Increase intelligence and awareness
  • More in control of your movements
  • Focus

Visualize winning your state title. The venue, colors, smell, noise, hand raised in victory, standing on the top of the podium, etc. Rehearse victory!

Write a scouting report – on yourself. Write your strengths and lesser strengths on the mat, off the mat, weight management, physical strength, responsibility, confidence, etc. Pay attention to detail and turn disadvantage into soundness.

Confidence – will play a major role in just about everything in your life and certainly in your being a state champion. Keep in mind, confidence is not the absence of negative thoughts and feelings. Confidence is bravery, conviction, man of action and a pro in-spite of doubts and fears. Confidence is not constant; it will rise and fall, but you can still prevail with or without confidence.

How to build confidence

  • Self-talk – where is your focus / thoughts?
  • Break-down obstacles – nothing’s catastrophic
  • Improve preparation – quality  training
  • Take action – action creates results
  • Question our doubts – since we question our readiness, turn it around question your doubts – maybe I am ready, etc.

Attitude Everything that comes up between now and your state championship will be answered “I will,”  “I’ll adjust,”  “I’ll find a way”! Commit to this position and drastically tilt the scale in your favor.


  • Focus, effort, hustle and toughness every day and all training opportunities
  • The little “things” make the difference
  • You’re a pro regardless how you feel – you have to be willing to give up comfort
  • Biggest daily challenge – what you know you should do and what you actually do – Do it!
  • Compete in your training

Responsibility – great competitors are responsible. They don’t trust anyone else to get it done for them. They know their progress, results, and success relies on them. Yes, we need people, help, coaching, support, etc. but no one has more say than us over our progress and results. Great competitors, students, individuals don’t want it any other way.

Competition mindset

  • Expect to succeed
  • Maintain strong positive body language – body language indicates attitude and attitude dictates behavior.
  • Focus on what you can control – effort and attitude.
  • Focus on specific behaviors (behaviors that produce effectiveness and victory) not wins or loses
  • Utilize your strengths during competition
  • Keep everything straightforward – simplicity during competition analysis during training
  • A win is never certain and a loss is never final – sprint through every finish line, clock, period, etc.


We all have nervousness and doubts. We all have courage and conviction.

Both exist in our mind. They do not live in harmony, so choose your focus.

This takes discipline, awareness and persistence, but the payoff is substantial.

The statue of David

This statue is about six tons and 17 feet tall. Michael Angelo spent about four years and when completed was asked “How did you get this incredible statue of David out of a huge block of marble?” Angelo answered “David was already in the marble. All I had to do was chip away the excess.” How does this apply to you? The warrior, competitor, potential and winner are already inside of you. You just have to chip away the excess. The excess is all the actions and behaviors that have been presented in the message – I want to be a state champion.

Why not you?

Ask yourself, why not me? Someone has to be the state champion, so why not me. Do you have any valid reasons why it can’t be you? You can overcome any objections. Remember – I will, I’ll adjust, I’ll find a way. In time you’ll declare “It will be me!”

Outline to be a state champion

  1. Figure out exactly what you want – State Champion
  2. Make an unshakable decision that you will fully commit to this decision
  3. Write down your goal – State Champion
  4. Write down the behaviors and actions you have to take to be s state champion
  5. Pay attention to your thinking so you can manage and influence positive thoughts and results
  6. Pay attention to your breathing and slow down your breathing in escalated situation so you can manipulate your response and results.
  7. See yourself in your mind’s eye achieving victory
  8. Write a scouting report on yourself to reinforce your strengths and address your lesser strengths
  9. Your self-talk is the major influence in your confidence. Pay attention to your thoughts and improve your confidence a little at a time
  10. Cultivate the attitude – I will, I’ll adjust, I’ll find a way.
  11. Every day in your training consists of focus, effort, hustle, and toughness
  12. Your progress, success, or demise depends on you. Look no further
  13. Expect to succeed every time out
  14. Choose what your focus will be
  15. The winner is already inside you
  16. You will emerge the champion

The outline above will definitely help you focus and move towards your goals of being a state champion. Keep it simple, look for the themes, and follow to the best of your ability. Begin your journey today. You have just the right amount of time to reach your destination of – State Champion. Good luck!!

Mark Schwab is an assistant coach at the University of Northern Iowa. Previously he spent nine years as assistant coach at the University of Minnesota, helping the program to seven top-three team finishes at the NCAA Championships and two NCAA team titles. As a wrestler, Schwab was an All-American for the University of Northern Iowa during the late 1980s. Schwab earned his bachelor’s degree in 1990 from the University of Northern Iowa and his master’s degree from the University of Minnesota in 2003. Schwab returned to the University of Minnesota to get a second emphasis in sport psychology on his existing master’s and completed that in 2010. Email Mark at mark.schwab@uni.edu.

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