Klingman: Traits of elite wrestlers can help us all succeed

Updated: June 11, 2020

Photo: Ohio State coach Tom Ryan shared his thoughts about what makes an elite wrestler to WIN columnist Kyle Klingman.

The following column was featured in the May issue of WIN Magazine. WIN frequently does profiles of current wrestlers and coaches to find out their “keys to success” knowing it both helps fans to get to know them better but also apply some of those traits to their own life. To read Klingman’s full column from the May issue of WIN, click here to subscribe or call 888-305-0606. Use Discount Code “May” to get a print copy of WIN’s annual Awards Issue with the Klingman Column in it. 

Also, WIN will be publishing a special digital issue in June and look for WIN’s next printed issue in July.

By Kyle Klingman

recent conversation with Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan turned into a discussion about the traits of elite competitors and coaches. 

Below are 10 personal observations about elite performers along with Ryan’s ‘Traits of the Elite’ that he uses for his Buckeye wrestling team. 

1. Hatred of losing. There is a genetic code among elite competitors that they absolutely hate losing. This is a pathological trait that means an elite competitor will stop at nothing to win. An elite achiever will find the outlet that allows him or her to win if the current outlet isn’t working. 

2. Attention to detail. Every detail, every second, every position, every point, and every situation is important. 

3. Deliberate practice. It’s not just repetition over and over. It’s a very specific kind of practice that allows an elite competitor to make adjustments and improve on those adjustments. 

4. Obstacles are an illusion. If the goal is to be an Olympic gold medalist, then the elite competitor will reach that goal regardless of circumstance. Injuries, illness, finances and any other outside distractions do not factor into the desired outcome. 

5. Emotional intelligence. Elite competitors compartmentalize feelings. Feelings are irrational and they can be dishonest. 

**”Traits of the Elite” #6-10 available with a Print or Digital Subscription to WIN in the May issue. 

The following are Ohio State Wrestling’s 8 Traits of Elite Wrestlers:

1. Composure/emotional control: The brilliant unison of the heart and head working together allowing the body to work in its optimal state.

2. Trust: The foundational ingredient for progress. All in on believing our staff is believable — that our system and words are held in the utmost regard.

3. Brotherhood/leadership ability: One who lifts others up. A bond between two or more in which all parties uplift each other and see themselves as an integral piece of the whole.

(WIN’s monthly columnist Kyle Klingman, the former director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum, is an editorial content provider for Trackwrestling.)