Blog entry #14 – Ch-ch-ch-ch, changes – Turn and face the strange.

One of the great things about being a coach is the new beginnings and influx of new athletes into the program each year. This also gives us the chance to evaluate what we do and where we are going as a program. I try to make small changes, additions and subtractions each year. These are usually technical or involve practice structure. Some years it delves deeper into who we as coaches are, our approach toward athletes and if we can improve that essential athlete-coach relationship. But, wow man that’s deep and takes some serious self analysis some of which can be uncomfortable. My wife has been trying to mold me for 36 years so I fully understand the toil and commitment it requires. Or at least she does. (The picture below has nothing to do with this post other than Ike Anderson is an awesome dude. I’m the dude on the left and Ike’s on the right.)

I think we owe it to our athletes to keep it fresh and improve our craft just as we ask them to improve their’s. Some of these kids, if they are in our club, will have seen hundreds of practices you as a coach have administered. If there is no change, improvement or addition it can get pretty darn stagnant for the athlete and possibly inhibit growth. Plus, it behooves us to stay current on technique and the ch-ch-ch-ch-changes of the sport. Good programs have routine, rituals and a steady culture that is driven by philosophy. This is essential as athletes learn best within a system. That stated, if you don’t change, adapt or seek best practices as a coach/program you my fine feathered friends will be left in the nest never to truly spread your wings and sore like the champion you were meant to be.

Ok, I went a little far there. As you know I’ve been coaching a while but even so I have been frustrated with my teams ability to attack offensively from neutral (feet). I’ve watched the Japanese woman for years now and their willingness to attack is impressive. They have great position and that helps but they are also willing to roll the dice a number of times in a match. Being a guy who loves Vegas I can appreciate this mind set. They may shoot 5-6-7 times in a match but finish only twice. How do they get away with this and why so many chances? Where’s the strategy in this crazy attackfest? Because they can. Haha, they finish twice and get on top the match may and probably will end in a leg lace. But, they can do this because their SHOT RECOVERY is exceptional and their CONFIDENCE IN THEIR ABILITY TO RECOVER from a poor position very high. So, I’m thinking they must spend a lot of mindful practice time from shot recovery positions. I’ve asked but I never get a straight answer. Probably because they’re speaking Japanese and don’t want me to know their secrets anyway.

You know the little kid wrestler who perfects the Olympic roll or cement mixer early on and never shoots because they learn its safer to cement mix than it is to go underneath their opponent on a shot? The same kid gets to high school and lacks a decent leg attack or more importantly the belief they can score on leg attacks. Confidence and trust is king and wrestlers learn by experience. With this in mind I decided to front load my teaching and drilling this year with shot recovery rather than penetration and attack like I’ve done in the past. In an attempt to get my athletes comfortable underneath someone on a leg I’ve purposefully emphasized this position prior to attacking. I don’t know if this will have a huge effect on my high school kids as many of them have wrestled quite a while and are already set in their ways to a certain extent. This is however, an example of ch-changes and attempting to improve what we are doing after analyzing where we need to improve. I am encouraging my middle school and kids coaches to apply this approach of teaching backwards to their programs and see if it positively effects their ability/willingness to attack legs. Lots of shot recovery and finish positions on the front end to build that confidence.

Hopefully, you can ask me in three months if this small ch-ch-ch-ch-change benefited our program.

These lyrics by the way are awesome – look inside RIP David Bowie.

I still don’t know what I was waiting for

And my time was running wild

A million dead-end streets

Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet

So I turned myself to face me

But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test

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