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Photo: Among the most popular upper-body, strength-training exercises are rope climbs (left) and bench flys with dumbells.
By Zach Even-Esh
Years ago, I had a conversation with another strength coach, who shared with me three contributing factors that largely influence an athlete’s success. These are not written in stone, but you can control some of them to a degree and as a result, they can completely change the trajectory of your success as a wrestler.
Genetics – You can’t change your parents and some wrestlers are naturally born with speed, strength and athleticism. Others are not as naturally gifted and these wrestlers need to work their butt off to achieve athleticism and power.
At the Division I level, I have seen countless times how “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” I know you’ve heard that before so that being said, control your effort. Nobody is stopping you from lifting at home, drilling on the grass with a teammate and all around finding a way to get better rather than waiting for permission or guidance from someone else. Stop waiting for perfect and start getting after it.
Geography – Where you live can completely change what opportunities are all around you. Certain towns and areas in the world are known for wrestling. Certain areas of Russia, America, etc. are known for great wrestling. There are great coaches in these areas, the kids grow up wrestling and essentially are born into a sport.
You might not live in or near a hot bed of high-level wrestlers and coaches, but you can travel to make it happen. In a world where people seek out convenience and don’t want to drive more than 15 minutes, that can be an advantage for you. I remember hearing how Steve Mocco’s dad and older brother would drive all around New Jersey and Pennsylvania every week for high level training to places like Cranford Judo Club and Team Foxcatcher. When my younger brother was in high school, he and a few teammates would drive one hour each way to Team Hammer, a wrestling club founded by Damion Hahn’s dad in the early 1990s.
Again, it was not convenient but I recall seeing how training at that club transformed my brother as a wrestler. He was around great coaches and battled every practice with very tough, highly-skilled wrestlers.
I have a quote, “Convenience and Excellence are Never Found on the Same Road.” If you’re in need of getting better, it might be time for a weekly road trip to change your local geography and compete with better wrestlers.
Opportunity – Some wrestlers have more and/or better opportunity than others. Maybe your dad was a high-level wrestler or perhaps your neighbor. You get to train every day under the best. That is a huge opportunity. Maybe your coach organizes camps and clinics regularly in the off-season so you have easy access to being training by the best.
The irony here is that many wrestlers and coaches have opportunity all around them. Some are answering the door when opportunity comes knocking while others ignore those thundering knocks.
As you can see, these three factors are not all in your control but you can take action to put the cards in your favor. You can train with the best and eat like a champion to transform your mind and body. You can travel to find better competition, great coaches and great training partners. If you’re not taking action, then you cannot be surprised when you are not succeeding at the highest levels. Get after it!
(Zach Even-Esh is the founder of The Underground Strength Gym in New Jersey, the Author of The Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and serves as a consultant for individuals and programs seeking elite performance. Connect with Zach at https://ZachEven-Esh.com and https://UndergroundStrengthCoach.com. ) n