West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on the Fear of Making Mistakes

"I was afraid to make a mistake."

This happens to athletes in every sport, but I can best relate this phenomenon to wrestling. I have seen this happen ever since I was an elementary wrestler. It occurs when wrestlers, even great ones, begin to think too much about "messing up" during important matches. Instead of letting one's abilities take care of themselves, they let their thoughts of what might happen if they take a chance rule their actions . . . and ultimately lose because of it.

It's basically called being too "conservative." As a matter of fact, we see it in a lot of championship matches, whether it be the regionals, states, and even nationals. Ironically, during such tournaments, often the best matches are observed in the semi-final round. In the championship bouts, we watch both finalists compete in a very cautious manner. The first matman who decides to take a chance usually wins the match. Unfortunately, the fans were denied the opportunity to view two wrestlers display their well-honed skills because the wrestlers feared the possibility of making costly errors.

As an athlete, you must not concern yourself with making mistakes, but decide to show-off the techniques you trained so hard to master in practice. The odds of success are high because you'll be reacting, not hesitating. Keep in mind, the greatest mistake you can make in athletics or life is doing nothing at all. If you have prepared yourself properly for a dual meet or tournament, give it your best shot during competition. The worst that can happen is losing to a superior wrestler . . . and that's better than losing due to inaction.

In closing, before every challenge you face in life, think about the following words of wisdom:
"In order to steal second base, you must RISK taking your foot off first."

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Updated November 27, 1997