Appreciate Your Experiences

Cary Kolat and Matt Dernlan discuss Chapter 5 of the book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath. The chapter is about using positive emotion to create change. Dernlan has found this book extremely helpful and relatable. Kolat asks if Dernlan was able to enjoy his business trip overseas. When Kolat competed he was focused on competition. He didn’t take the time to appreciate the cultures he was traveling to. Relating to this, Dernlan talks about learning to appreciate your surroundings. Even if your main focus is business or competition it’s important to take in experiences and cultures.

Emotion Drives Changes

Our lives are defined by our memories. Everything we do, including laughing at jokes, cooking dinner, or calling a friend relies on our prior knowledge of similar events. Kolat speaks on memories and how positive emotions can drive change. When reviewing film with an athlete Kolat prefers to watch matches where the athlete won. The thought process is that by appealing to the positive emotion associated with that memory, that action will lock in change. Most wrestlers are very tough on themselves. They are constantly trying to improve by remembering the mistakes they’ve made and want to prevent. Dernlan talks about how important it is to point out the actions the wrestler does successfully. The wrestler might be minimizing or taking those successes for granted.

Success Cements Habits

Kolat uses the example of a youth wrestler who gains success because they are either stronger or more aggressive than the other kids. Sometimes a young wrestler wins matches with bad technique. This is then celebrated by family and friends. When that young wrestler gets to the next level and pure aggression doesn’t work, it’s really difficult for a coach to retrain them the right way. That past positive emotion reinforced a lot of poor habits that will later need correcting.

Feeling the Vision

In order to grow a program and rationalize why money should be spent you have to use statistics and analytics to support your task. When you’re trying to appeal to athletes, you can speak stats to them all day long but what will actually create change is making them feel it and see it. An example of emotion moving a large group of people simultaneously is when someone gets a pin in a big match. The entire bench stands up, the crowd stands up to cheer and it’s all driven by the emotion of what just happened.

Managing Down Time Before an Event

One important thing Dernlan states is you also have to be mindful of your emotional balance. You can’t burn yourself out but you can’t be timid either. You have to find that emotional center that drives success. Kolat agrees about not letting excitement or anxiety drain your energy for the match. For an athlete that hasn’t been in a situation like the day before the NCAA tournament, it’s important for the coach to structure the athlete’s day. One really helpful thing Coach Pat Santoro told Kolat was not to panic when you discover that he wouldn’t be able to sleep. If you’re laying down your body is resting and the other guy is going through the same thing. This put Kolat’s mind at ease to not allow the fact that it’s hard to sleep before a big event to cause panic or doubt.

Perfect Timing

From high schoolers heading to states to college athletes heading to NCAA Tournament, the biggest emotional moments in wrestling are coming up in the next 6 weeks. A book like Switch and a podcast like The Way can help guide coaches and athletes on how to properly and effectively navigate these times. Next week Dernlan and Kolat will tackle Chapter 6 of Switch, Shrink the Change.


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