Mat Rats Philosophy
Mat Rat coaches believe that wrestling is much more than a sport, but an effective vehicle through which we can instill important qualities that will serve our children way beyond their years of athletic competition. Our objective is not to make national champions as youth wrestlers, but to provide them with the tools they need to achieve an elite level of wrestling in high school, college and beyond. With this in mind, our goals are to instill DISCIPLINE, CONFIDENCE, and RESPECT in all Mat Rats while providing them with a SOLID FOUNDATION upon which they can achieve any level of success in the sport of wrestling.
Wrestling is an individual sport that requires DISCIPLINE–perhaps more than any other sport. In wrestling, the competitor who has prepared himself the best mentally and physically is usually the most likely to win. Effective preparation requires discipline. Similarly, in order to succeed during difficult stressful situations requires discipline. Over time, as your children mature in the sport of wrestling and beyond, discipline will become increasingly critical to their success. As Mat Rat coaches, we believe it is imperative to establish early the expectation of discipline. And, while we will appropriately tailor practices to the maturity level and ability of our wrestlers, we will demand that all Mat Rats demonstrate a high level of discipline during practice and competition.
Anyone can be a great wrestler. In many sports, size and athleticism can create significant advantages or disadvantages for an athlete. However, in wrestling, whether tall, short, big or small, if your child has the desire to learn the sport and a willingness to work hard…your child will win. While athleticism may offer greater advantages at early ages, those advantages will eventually give way to technique and training. A champion's CONFIDENCE is born from trusting that the hard work invested in preparing for a match will enable him or her to win. As Mat Rat coaches, we will teach your children to believe that their success is solely dependent on their willingness to work harder than their competition. Confidence born from hard work will empower your children to achieve success for many years beyond their wrestling careers.
Every wrestling match begins and ends with a handshake. Win or lose, any wrestler who has demonstrated the courage to compete in the center of the mat, one-on-one, in front of strangers, family and friends, deserves the other's RESPECT. As Mat Rat coaches, we will ensure that your children learn the importance of respecting their competition before, during, and after every match.
A SOLID FOUNDATION begins with a love for the sport of wrestling. First and foremost, we want your children to have fun being Mat Rats. In order to reach their potential during high school, college, or beyond, they must first discover a love for the sport–only then they will be driven to succeed in it. It is imperative that Mat Rats associate practices and competitions as positive experiences. In order to accomplish this, Mat Rat coaches will:
1) Ensure continuous positive reinforcement and avoid any negative motivation. 2) Include evolutions in every practice that are intended to be FUN! 3) Promote participation in open tournaments with other Mat Rat teammates. 4) Positively affirm a good effort following every practice.
We believe that parents and coaches must play equally important, but distinctively different, roles in developing a love for the sport of wrestling. In the words of Olympic gold medalist and legendary wrestling coach Dan Gable, "once you've wrestled, everything else in life is easy". At the end of the day, wrestling is a challenging sport. It takes courage to begin it, dedication to learn it, and years to master it.
As Mat Rat coaches, we will present your children with challenges and help them overcome them while having a positive experience. That is our responsiblity.
As Mat Rat parents, you need to encourage your children to continue with the sport long enough for them to experience success. That is your responsibility.
Simple, but effective approaches for parents can include:
- Reinforcing the importance of learning and employing new techniques in competition, rather than the importance of winning.
- Ending each competition with a modest reward (e.g. milk shake with Mom or Dad) regardless of a win or a loss, reinforcing the positive experience.
- Focusing solely on the positives, avoiding altogether the negatives…especially during and immediately following difficult matches. Showing this sort of restraint may be the most challenging task for all wrestling parents.
- Exposing your children to more advanced wrestling. While not always well publicized, there are many opportunities to compete in open tournaments, participate in wrestling camps, and attend exceptional local high school and college wrestling matches. Exposure to elite wrestling helps your children establish an appropriate expectation that they can also achieve an elite level of success.