Competitiveness is Within
A question that Cary Kolat received following the NCAA Wrestling Championships was “Can you build competitiveness?” Kolat starts with explaining if you’re in the sport of wrestling and enjoy it then there is already some competitiveness inside you. The coach’s job is to bring out that competitiveness as much as possible.
Us vs Them
The way Kolat approaches competition is by telling his team that it is them vs everyone else. Campbell Wrestling starts with the psychological battle as soon as they enter the arena at the weigh-ins. When his wrestlers step on the scale they don’t show any sign of fatigue from the weight cut whether they feel it or not. They own whatever venue they’re in. Everything from firm handshakes to looking their opponent in the eyes, this shows competitiveness. They are not unsportsmanlike in the slightest but all these actions put together show that they mean business. Kolat is looking at every angle from fan participation to mat control like it is a battlefield. If he can get his wrestlers to look at a dual from this mentality, that’s what brings out the competitive nature. No one wants to let the team down.
It Starts with Leadership
Kolat is very transparent; when the opponent walks in the arena, he is not concerned about how comfortable they are. He and his team show no concern for the other team. He doesn’t want his wrestlers to allow the other team to be comfortable. This all starts with the leadership in the program. He lets his team know that the opposing team is there to say they work harder, they’re coaches are better, etc. Kolat takes this personal. In his mind, when his team loses he imagines the other coach is thinking he is a better coach than him.
Gaining an Edge
Competitiveness has to be within the wrestler. As a leader, you shape the attitude, the environment, and procedures. He is not a cheater but within an ethical balance, any advantage Kolat can get he’s willing to take. He believes wrestling is as much of a mental battle as it is a physical one. Competitiveness starts from the moment you enter the arena and doesn’t end until you’re on the bus going home.
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