West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on How to Build Confidence

Recently, I received an e-mail communication from a West Virginia high school wrestler who needed some assistance. It seems that he is having confidence problems.

Although the young matman is experiencing some success on the mats, he feels that his performances are far from satisfactory because he enters into competition with negative thoughts. Here is the advice I gave to him:

Dear fellow wrestler,
Before I offer some timely suggestions, you need to know a little bit about my family heritage in the mat sport. Below is the postscript from a historical wrestling article I was asked to author for the Pennsylvania Wrestling Newsletter (December 1999 Issue):

I am not sharing this information with you to brag, but to let you know that even with my past successes in the mat sport -- I, too, lacked confidence in myself as a wrestler!

So, what did I do about it. With the help of my brother, Mother and Father, I came up with the following three-phase self-confidence improvement plan:

1. First and foremost, I pushed myself harder at practice and listened to everything my coaches preached regarding skill perfection and developing a winning attitude. I was also very fortunate to have two younger practice partners (Harry “Bumps” Weinhofer and Joey Bordell), who made me work for my varsity position all four years. I mention their names because they, themselves, were later PA state champs. What practice competition!

2. Secondly, my training would not end when daily workouts were over. After supper and homework, I would run five miles up and down hills -- even in the snow. Furthermore, I would actually sneak into the school gym at night and climb the rope two times without using my legs. I also lifted my barbells three times a week. Why ... because it made me feel (psychologically) that I was in much better condition than my worthy opponents.

3. Finally, and just as important, I believed in prayers (and still do). Before matches, I would never pray to win. Instead, I would ask God to assist me in doing my best and that neither I nor my adversary would be injured. This I learned from my mother, with Dad’s wholehearted approval. I can attest to the power of prayer because there were a number of matches I went into with thoughts of losing. However, as the bouts progressed, my thoughts gradually turned to winning. In truth, I believe that God was guiding me.

In closing, I hope this advice will help you with your self-confidence. Oh, and two other points: Don’t be a talker, be a doer. Most people today say they’re going to do this and that, while only the very few work doggedly to accomplish their dreams. Finally, when you do succeed (and you will if you’re truly dedicated), don’t be a “hot dog” when you win. On the contrary, act like you’ve been there before. Such behavior builds character and gains the sincere respect of others.

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