Mental Mondays with Ben Askren: Overcoming Exhaustion
This week on Mental Mondays
Ben Askren explores the one thing inescapable by any athlete in any sport; exhaustion. He outlines four simple tips to help combat exhaustion during a match.
Ben Askren’s Tips to Combat Exhaustion
As Askren begins, he points out how the fear of being tired will affect an athlete’s performance. He talks about how exhaustion is not only common, but completely unavoidable. The human body can only maintain a sprint for about 4 seconds. During that 4 second sprint, our muscles are generating their maximum amount of power.
When translating that to a wrestling match lasting 6 minutes, where an athlete is wrestling hard, pushing themselves, and their opponent; the athlete IS going to get tired. What many wrestlers need to understand is they should expect exhaustion to occur if the athlete is going to overcome it.
Expend Your Opponent’s Energy
Ben talks about how wrestlers should be as efficient as possible in their energy expenditure. While becoming tired is inevitable, that doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to control how and when the energy is spent. Askren also points out learning to control your energy output doesn’t mean avoiding a strategic move in a match. Instead, the wrestler should do the opposite – push the opponent, lead them, force them to react. A successful athlete should control the overall pace of a match by forcing your opponent to expend their own energy in unnecessary ways.
Condition the Right Way
Next, Ben touches on how to successfully control the pace of a match by proper conditioning. Askren compares exhaustion during a match to outrunning a bear. He says, “You don’t need to outrun the bear; you just need to outrun the other person running from the bear.” What does this mean? Ben believes if an athlete has a solid conditioning foundation you will be more efficient in expending your energy. This will result in growing tired much slower than your opponent, gaining a substantial advantage during a match.
Askren’s final point on combatting exhaustion is to prepare mentally. Exhaustion is unavoidable during a match. It causes your mental focus to downgrade, leading to mistakes and poor decisions that can cost a wrestler a match. The best way for an athlete to prepare and learn how to personally handle exhaustion is to experience it! Once you, as an athlete, have become accustomed to being tired, and routinely push yourself passed your own limits then you will begin to understand; and grow comfortable with being uncomfortable. This is how a wrestler becomes confident in their ability to not only maintain focus and avoid simple mistakes, but also capitalize on your opponent’s mistakes and distractions giving you the advantage.
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