Wrestling is a very personal measure and trial. “IT” becomes part of you and you become part of “IT.” The “IT” is the grind. The grind is very intimate and personal. You welcome, accept and take it as your own. The grind is physical, labor and toil. You become addicted to this strain. You don’t feel right without it. The grind is where you meet and learn about yourself. You can’t get this in a book. You have to be totally steeped in a cause or purpose to get a glimpse of the depth. You will learn about your fears, doubts, uncertainties, and ideally learning to manage your mind. If you can do this, you will dictate where you want to go in life. The way you manage your grind is through your mind. Your self-talk is basic to how you perform. Improving your game means taking responsibility for improving your mind. If you haven’t done so, embrace the grind. The grind is spiritual. It’s a journey that will take you to your core.
You find your most severe and trickiest foe is above your own shoulders. The grind will test, push, and force you to give up comfort, and really take you places that only a true commitment and sacrifice can. Most haven’t a clue. You learn your weaknesses, your kryptonite, but by embracing, you conquer your most difficult opponent, however, only for a time. Your rival will never tire or abandon you. Yes, your mind is your friend or enemy. It fills you with possibilities or doubts and says yes I can or no I can’t. You will swim, sink and sometimes drown. You have to say yes. You don’t have to approve, but you must consent. You must make a decision and burn the bridges. A decision is more powerful than talent. Embracing the grind is confidence because now you know where you’re going. You can answer the grind with exclamation points instead of question marks. If/when you make a firm decision, it’s synonymous with confidence, success, and victory.
The grind and fatigue are mates. Fatigue will make you vulnerable to doubt. It’s here at the very moment when fatigue has set-in, you take deep breaths and direct your awareness to persist and extend. You will improve seconds at a time. Think about how much improvement you can make over a year. Your grind life is lengthened by minutes and minutes; this is astronomical in wrestling.
Make no mistake about it. The grind is extreme! However, in my lifetime, I have yet to experience any satisfaction greater than giving all of myself to something and staying with it long enough to experience the fruit. The grind is an investment. Don’t cheat yourself the experience. The journey alone is necessary development and education.
Never allow yourself defeat at the hands of something you could have controlled or prepared for. The grind is your preparation. It’s where you spend most of your time. This goes way beyond wrestling and into any arena you’re tested in.
What percent of training and competing do you think is mental? Then compare how much you actually spend on the mental side of it. The grind is mental! No amount of mental training will substitute for poor mechanics, lack of training or limited physical aptitude, but your mental climate is the most influencing factor.
After 23 years of coaching, I feel I’m following my purpose. I have presentations for teams, businesses, and anyone who cares and wants to get the most out of their life. My programs are called “Opportunities to Succeed” and “Mental Warrior.” It’s everything I wrote above and more. Check me out at opportunitiestosucceed.com.
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 email@example.com
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