Mental Preparation for Post Season (HS)


Mental Preparation for Post Season

by Dennis A. Johnson, EdD

How much of a wrestling match is mental; seventy, eighty, or ninety percent?  We have all heard the scenario where two wrestlers of equal physical stature (i.e., strength and speed) and are equal in terms of tactics and techniques meet center mat.  Who wins?  And we as coaches all know the answer; the wrestler who is mentally tougher and has the better mental game.

With so much of wrestling being mental, hopefully coaches have been working on a number of mental skills throughout the season.  Mental skills such as goal-setting, imagery, focus, and relaxation are just like physical skills.  And that means that mental skills, like physical skills must be practiced.  If these skills have been practiced weekly, they will carry into the post season.

However, if mental skills have not been practiced then coaches should work with wrestlers to develop a mental game plan for upcoming post season tournaments.  The mental game plan should include a mental image of warm-up and the actual match complete with a variety of scenarios that might be encountered.  Wrestlers should also have a game plan for unexpected outcomes, for instance injury or a loss.

A wrestler often will get upset and be forced to wrestle back for an advancement place to move on to the next level of the state championship series.  Even though, they plan to win, they must have a backup plan just in case.  I once had a wrestler that was totally focused on winning a tournament and didn’t have a backup plan for the consolation rounds.  He failed to place and did not move on to the state meet.  So help wrestlers develop a mental game plan and rehearse it on a daily basis.

The NWCA Wrestling Coaches Resource Manual(1) offers additional tips for more mental preparation for the post season.

“Find a way and make it happen”….dj


  1. Caslow, D. (2008).Wrestling coaches resource manual. Manheim, PA: NWCA

Dennis A. Johnson, EdD

Associate Professor-Jamestown Community College (SUNY)
Former Wrestling Coach & Author of Wrestling Drills for the Mat and Mind

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