Preparing for the weekly exam: A student athletes approach to training.

By Damion Logan

I am often asked by parents and wrestlers what the difference between Apex and other wrestling clubs is?  I direct them back to the name of our training centers: Apex Wrestling School.  When I started Apex Wrestling School I chose that name for a reason.  The correlation between school and athletic gains is key to making sure each athlete develops and reaches their potential.  The idea that an athlete must be a Student-Athlete, student being first, is one of the corner stone philosophies of our program.

The difference between our approach and others can easily be broken down like this: In life there are certain exams that you have to go above and beyond to prepare for.  The SAT’s, ACT’s and LSTAT’s are examples of these exams.  In order to be maximize your chances of being successful in these exams you have to understand what your weaknesses are and take a preparatory course.  As you go through these courses and prep exams your instructor will give you answers to many questions.  If they tell you the answer is B for a question and you chose A on the practice exam, you don’t then go back and pick A again on the next practice exam or when the exam comes around.  You have to be able to take what you do in the classroom and bring it into the exam.  The way you approach the prep exams and studying ultimately is reflected in the exam itself.  This is true with wrestling as well.

I mention this because, the typical athlete comes to practice and sometimes I questions exactly why they are coming.  In theory everyone is coming to get better but what I notice is there is always a struggle between a coach pulling the best out of an athlete and what the athlete is there to do.  In other words, I see many athletes just going through the motions.  At Apex, through our classes and privates, we try to focus on the match approach, stance and motion, fakes, down blocks, the strategies needed to win.  In order to get the most out of these workouts it is very important that every athlete is focused and mentally prepared.

When we do drills we are looking for a kid to approach them in the same way they approach a match situation.  This requires a great deal of concentration and often leads us to ask an athlete, “Are you able to focus on the reason you are there?”  When you, the student-athlete walks in the doors you should be coming in with the approach that, I am here to better my game and only better my game.  I’m not here to be social, I’m not here to make friends or hang out.

Each athlete should have an understanding and a plan of what they need to work on when them come in the doors.  Walking in and saying “I need to work on defending the single…I need to work on clearing ties…I need to work on making sure I don’t get beat underneath on the stand-up.” Shows focus and that you are prepared for practice.   Saying, “I need to score more takedowns or I need to work on my feet” is not going to lead to a productive practice.  Each wrestler needs to have an understanding of the specific things they need to work on and then focus on those things in practice.  The student-athlete needs to understand that if they’re not focused on those things and they’re not focused on how to better their game, and they’re not going to see consistent results on the mat.

The most successful athletes in our school are the ones that can come into practice with that laser focus.  Those that come in asking questions and pushing themselves intellectually and physically are the ones that see the biggest gains.

This focus coming into practice can even be broken down into specific aspects of your training.  For example, can you really say that every time you line-up on bottom, whether it be practice, a scrimmage or a match, you have the same focus and determination to get out on the whistle?  If you can’t you should be able to.  Don’t waste your time or your partner’s time by going through the motions.  When you value your training, you’re going to value your wins and loses more and as a result value the training and preparation more as well.

When I think back to my days as a competitor, the times I felt most confident and the times where I never felt tired, were the times when I was approaching my training with the same determination I am speaking talking about.  So remember when you’re training here or at your high school room approach it as an opportunity to get better and focus on what you need to do to win, and nothing