Coaches Corner by

Training in Olympic styles will greatly help those “ready” to go to next level

(Editor’s Note: Mike Clayton is USA Wrestling’s Manager of the National Coaches

Education Program. He has extensive experience coaching at the youth, high school, college and international levels.)


ave you ever been in such a hurry to get something done that you rush the job and it ends up taking you two or three times longer to do the job? Maybe you’re in a hurry to run out the

door to work or practice and you forget something. Then, 15 minutes down the road you have to turn around again and run back to get it. When we rush, we can make bad decisions. When we don’t have time to

fully process and think through a decision, we fall back on whatever training and habits we have used to prepare for the unexpected surprises in life. Great training allows us to make better decisions when time is short. In

wrestling, the decisions we make in an instant during a match are determined by the daily practice of proper techniques and solid positions that develop into habits each day we practice them. The same holds true for the poor positions we keep and the gaps in solid techniques we drill. Over-competition is a huge problem in America. We compete every

weekend but may only practice twice a week. We reinforce bad habits in com- SHWLWLRQ DQG XQOHVV ZH À [ WKHP WKURXJK KRXUV RI SURSHU SUDFWLFH WKRVH EDG habits become ingrained into our style of wrestling. So with good coaching, why do some kids not want to listen or learn? I recently injured my hamstring. I spent four months doing everything I knew to

repair the injury. After four months, it was not better, maybe even worse! So I called a friend in town and asked for help. He pointed me to a rehab and performance group here in Colorado Springs and their new strategies and techniques (new to me, not to the world) allowed me to start improving. , ZDV UHDG\ WR À QG DQ DQVZHU DQG , had to get out of my comfort zone WR À QG LW I was so excited by this “new”

Mike Clayton

Mike Clayton

information I’d found and was so happy that my recovery was going even bet- ter than I’d thought possible! I wanted to share this information with everyone close to me so they could feel as good as I was feeling. I started sending them some of the rehab videos so they could implement these great changes into their own lives. Of the 10 people I sent the info to, only one took it to heart. Why? Because they weren’t ready to take on this new information. We see this in coaching all the time. We know what techniques, mindsets,

training programs, and nutritional plans will help our athletes compete and develop to be their best, but many athletes (or even coaches for that matter) refuse to follow this solid advice. Why? Because they aren’t ready to take on this new information. The new rehab and performance center mentioned to me that our brains

are always taking in information. When we send too much info to our brain, it can’t process it all at once so sometimes it shuts down. It blocks new informa- tion so it can survive. Humans value survival over performance so it becomes easier to see why some people don’t heed our advice when it is solid and time appropriate. It’s just not something they are ready to accept yet. They feel they just need to survive until tomorrow and performance can wait. Learning has to be on the schedule of the learner. A coach’s job is to create an environment where athletes can accept this

key information and where they come to practice excited to learn. When is the last time you went to practice 10 pounds overweight and were excited to learn? Coaches must create the ideal environment for learning. How are your facilities set up? How long do you spend at practice? How many moves do you try to stuff into an athlete’s head in a short time because, “we need to know it all?” Reality dictates that successful people in life learn to prioritize what is

important and what isn’t. What is urgent and what isn’t? And when everything is important and urgent, we take what our athletes can absorb and stop there. We drill it until it becomes habit and then we can progress to the next set. (I highly recommend reading “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.) At the Junior Worlds in Macon, France this past summer, Coach Jeff

Buxton and I were discussing coaching. I asked him how often he writes out a practice plan. He said he plans each practice, every day. Then, when asked how often he follows the plan, he said never. He said that kids come into the room with different levels of energy. Maybe his plan was for a rough practice but the kids’ energy is low from too many tests at school. They won’t be able to absorb the volume of practice he had planned so he adjusts the practice accordingly. ,I D ZUHVWOLQJ RIÀ FLDO KLWV RXU DWKOHWH IRU VWDOOLQJ


we rarely think anything of it or we might think, “Wow, that was a fast call.” %XW ZH DUH JHQHUDOO\ SUHWW\ FDOP DERXW LW EHFDXVH ZH NQRZ ZH KDYH À YH RU VL[ minutes to score points to achieve what we want to achieve, which is to win the match.


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