High School vs College Wrestling

On this episode, Cary Kolat and Matt Dernlan discuss Chapter 8, “Tweak the Environment”, of the book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath. Tweaking the environment makes the right behaviors a little easier and the wrong behaviors a little harder. Kolat breaks down the training schedule his team is on that is setting them up for peak performance heading into their conference tournament. Dernlan talks about the tweaks or differences between a high school wrestling program and a college one. It’s easy for kids entering their first year of college to be resistant to certain changes because of the success they’ve had doing things differently in the past.

Put in the Work (4:35)

Heading into the postseason you don’t have to make major changes or improvements. Kolat and Dernlan talk about the mistake many wrestlers make this time of year. They think they need to change or improve their wrestling. Throughout the entire year is when you put the work in and continue to improve and get better. If you’ve been dialed in on nutrition, developing your game, and conditioning you don’t have to change anything for the postseason. All of those things are what got you to this point. Thinking it’s not good enough is only detrimental.

Weight Control (10:18)

Kolat relates the lessons in this chapter to weight control. Weight control/cutting is something that has to be taught to every wrestler once they get to the college level. These techniques to control and cut weight in the healthiest and most optimal way are not taught or provided at the high school level. This chapter talks about how many problems are situational problems that can be changed by shaping the path. One rule Kolat has is only allowing his guys to be in the cafeteria for about 30 minutes. By staying and socializing in that environment it’s easy to be tempted to eat more. By removing yourself from that environment you’ve easily solved that potential problem. Another change to your situation for weight control is waking up early and getting your body and metabolism going. Coaches need to make it easy by tweaking the environment, shrinking the change, and shaping the path.

Consistency is Key (20:54)

Dernlan talks about the initial hardships of changing habits. He discusses the first time younger wrestlers realize all that hard work not only helped them succeed but the reason why it made them succeed. They learn that what they did initially and consistently removes obstacles for them later in the season. People give up because they’re looking for instant gratification. The best minds in business and sports know this isn’t a reality. Change your perspective to thinking consistent improvement big or small is a success. That way you don’t burn yourself out after not achieving leaps and bounds overnight. Consistency is the only way you’re going to change your environment and fundamentally change your life.

Creating a Positive Work Environment (31:45)

Campbell’s new training facility is an example of changing an environment to make the right behaviors easier, therefore, sparking improvement. For example, Kolat’s team has easy access to cardio equipment that allows them to be able to quickly train all together at once. They also have more room to wrestle so they can spread out and not subconsciously worry about someone rolling into them. They have a place to go even if they’re injured or want to study. If you enjoy the place you work and train in you’ll be more productive and successful. Good attitude leads to enthusiasm and effort, which leads to success.

Learn from Competition (34:27)

Kolat likes taking his team to other wrestling rooms and regional training centers to change their environment. It shows them what other programs are doing and while they’re there they step up their intensity. It gives them a look at future competition as well. By changing your physical environment you change your perceptual environment. It allows you to see others success and failures and makes it easier for you to change.

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