January 13, 2010 by David Gillaspie
The concert musician who skips practices one day can tell the difference. After two days the other musicians notice. After skipping three days the audience knows. It’s the same for an athlete, which means its worse for a wrestler. Keep momentum headed one direction as long as you can.
The violinist uses touch, ear, posture, and timing. So does a wrestler. A violinist plays with others in the orchestra, or with recorded music. They play the greats from a sitting or standing position. It’s not easy, but it’s not wrestling.
How hard is wrestling? Shadow a match on television. Get into your crouch and stay there. Pick one guy and take the ups and downs with him. Make enough room to roll around on the floor when he goes to the mat.
Chances are good that shadowing matches will make you be a better wrestler. Copy the movement of one wrestler or the other. Turn it into part of a workout. Do the shots; do the sprawls; do the sit-outs and stand-ups. If things aren’t looking so good, skip the pin.
If anyone catches you shadowing a wrestling match on TV you’ll never live it down. That’s not a bad thing, but they’ll bring it up the rest of your life, like you used to be some sort of a nut case. Chances are if you’re a nut case now, you’ll be a nut case later. But you’ll be a winning nut case.
I watched a struggling team at a dual meet. By struggling I mean they got shut-out by the same team for the second year in a row. That’s some big struggles. It could be a case of bad luck; it could be something else.
A young wrestler, a family friend, struggles along with his team. The struggle is bending him, hanging with him all day, maybe bending and hanging all season.
One day I sat next to him and explained binary code, the zero and the one responsible for representing text or computer processor instructions in our modern world. He glazed over like I expected.
While I explained binary code in my most professorial boring voice, I shoved his shoulder. I gave another thirty seconds on binary code and gave him another shove.
I explained the zero and the one like it was a new version of Grand Theft Auto, and shoved him harder. He shoved back, but I stayed in my teacher character.
“How can a zero and a one do so much?” I asked, giving him a big shove.
He came back with a forearm leading with more elbow than I thought called for.
“The binary system sent a man to the moon. No way anyone does that with just a one and a zero, right? But they did.”
Bigger shove. This young man didn’t care about binary numbers or anything coming out of my face, but he paid attention to the shove.
I shoved him. He shoved me. He elbowed me and I put a headlock on him and gave him a dutch rub, a noogie. He’s laughing, I’m laughing. I let him go.
I say, “A one and a zero is yes and no, it’s off and on, go or no go. Listen kid, don’t let anyone push you around the mat. Push them until they push back, then snap them down, cinch a front headlock and run to the leg. You’re thinking out there on the mat. The whole team is thoughtful.
“If you remember anything from wrestling, remember this: Push until you get pushed, then get busy. If you don’t get a push back, then keep pushing until they break. It’s like a computer, like a video game, off and on, yes and no, action and reaction.
“Do you get this? I’ll make it easier. Don’t get pushed around in a wrestling match. Start at your next practice. Be the guy who doesn’t get pushed around. See if anyone notices the difference. You will.”
Does he get it? Does it matter?
The real question is how do athletes, wrestlers or anyone who accepts the way things are, make things the way they ought to be? Wrestling is just the best example. It’s a sport where you can draw a line; where you can circle a date on the calendar that states when you decided to make a difference.
Where are you right now? At home? At school? In the library? If your life isn’t what you want it to be, circle the date. Then look at it tomorrow and write down what you did to make it better. Not a list, not some preconceived self-help jargon, but one thing.
Use one thing that makes a difference to push yourself. Do it enough and you start hearing the music played for winners. I didn’t say champions, I said winners. Doing one thing that makes you better might make you a champ, but you’ll certainly be a winner.
What is the one thing that makes a difference a day later? Listen to your coach better. Challenge the toughest guy in your weight. Get your rest. Eat right. Finish your homework. It’s not what you don’t do, but if you don’t make an excuse for skipping one thing, you’re heading toward the podium.
Which level do you want to stand on? It’s your choice. Step right up. If you make it to the top, listen carefully. It’s your song and you’ll want to remember it.