Finding even a small mental edge over an opponent can change the outcome of a wrestling match. Although most wrestlers have sound pre-performance routines, few take advantage of a match’s in-between moments. Granted, they are brief, but whenever the referee blows his whistle to signal a match reset, you have an opportunity to mentally reset as well.
Treat those in-between moments as a gift, whether you’re performing well or not. Here are some quick sport psychology tips to help you take advantage and mentally reset. Your mental needs will depend on your level of performance, so plan for multiple situations.
Relax Muscle Tension
Abbreviated Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a strategy you can carry out in just a few seconds. Begin by scanning your body for any muscle tension. Next, tighten the muscle as hard as you can and hold for at least three seconds. Then simply release the muscle. You should feel it relax immediately. You can also use this technique after a match to relax your whole body, working from your toes up to your facial muscles (but avoiding any injured areas).
Eliminate Negative Self-Talk
Matches in which it seems like you’re not at your best can trigger a stream of negative thoughts—like “I can’t do anything right” or “I can’t win.” When the whistle blows to reset the match, use it as a signal to end those negative thoughts. Immediately replace them with positive thoughts or affirmation. Even if you know you need to correct something in your performance, cast it in positive terms. For example, rather than saying “‘don’t get too high,” say “‘stay centered.”
In-between moments may remind you that you are tired, especially when the clock is winding down near the end of a match. Remember to use power phrases, power imagery and power breathing to build your energy back up.