Just spent the weekend in Colorado Springs working with the woman’s program and spending time with a number of coaches. Anytime I’m with another wrestling coach there is learning to be had and the growth can be transformative. We should never stop learning and trying to hone our craft. I’m a true believer that if you don’t change you eventually won’t continue to maintain or build success. The subjects covered this weekend were as follows – technique (pressuring opponents from neutral, being purposeful with our hands, using fakes to pressure, shot recovery, go behinds, front headlocks, double up shots and a bunch of other cool stuff), practice planning, motivation, integrity/humility (Thomas Gilman), peaking, dealing with different personalities, the issues facing the elite athlete outside of the wrestling room, a need for a life class after wrestling for our World and Olympic team members, beer, the process and being mindful and how to properly grill a steak. Whew! That’s a lot in two days and I didn’t even get to all the awesome friendship stuff and the bonding.
Since we are on the subject of working on our craft this would be a great time to share my coaches reading list. So much of the sport revolves around understanding people. Reading gives us so much insight and reflection it is, I believe, essential to truly expand as a coach or teacher.
I will warn you that my list is not your standard coaching fare. Here’s the list with a related blurb.
My Losing Season by Pat Conroy – a real account of an athlete dealing with not only the struggles of attending the Citadel but also an account of having a toxic parent.
Season of Life: A Football Star, a Boy, a Journey to Manhood by Jeffrey Marx – This is a great lesson in how to treat athletes, what a programs focus should be and how thinking out of the box can lead to success.
The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance by W. Timothy Gallwey – If you are into focus, mental preparation, THE PROCESSS, applicable practice situations to improve both mentally and technically. This may be about tennis but it has so much information that applies to all sports, especially wrestling. I give this book to all my athletes who struggle with performance anxiety.
The Water Is Wide – a memoir by Pat Conroy – If you’re a young teacher you need to read this. If you’re a teacher and work in a school of diversity this is required reading.
Old Man and the Sea – Earnest Hemingway – An epic struggle with incredible connections to psychology.
A Sense of Where You Are: Bill Bradley at Princeton by John McPhee – A portrait of an athlete striving for perfection by a great author in McPhee.
Trying To Save Piggy Snead by John Irving – Irving was a college wrestler and even coached his boys when they were in high school. In this book he has notes on pararalels between writing and wrestling. His description of Dan Gable is fantastic.
Last but not least….
Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl- What really drives people to survive in harrowing situations? You can choose a few things in life.