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John Smith Oklahoma State Talks after Practice
John Smith tries to make sure that his team comes in each day to practice with a focus.
Re: John Smith Oklahoma State Talks after Practice
THANKS FOR POSTING THIS! This post practice speech was an excellent example of what separates the good from the GREAT and I hope that any of our fellow forum brothers and sisters who are still competing hear Smith's words and take them to heart! This is a gift of gold.
I was among a group of guys who had the benefit of hearing a similar speech from another great- Wayne Baughman, who was then the head coach of the 1982 US Greco World team in Colorado Springs. Wayne and Pavel Katsen were the coaches and back in that time, the world team trials were done in two parts - an initial ladder based tournament that set the final 4 followed by a 3 -4 week camp which culminated in a wrestle-off for the top spot and alternates. Aside from the #1 guy (especially if he was a true "fixture" in his weight like Kuzu, Gibson, Fuller or Chandler) the ladder often changed dramatically because of the intensity of the training camp in between. 6 days per week the schedule was pretty much the same - 6 AM 2 mile run followed by a mile of interval sprints of some sort (remember, this was in the altitude of Colorado Springs - initially lots of guys puking and dropping out with splitting headaches due to altitude sickness), breakfast, 10 - 11:30 AM technique practice, 12 -2 lunch/rest, 2 PM- a 45 min mandatory soccer or (rarely)basketball game, 3:15 -5 Live wrestling (situations, round robin takedowns to mat fighting, mat wrestling + 3-6 live matches) 5-7 dinner and rest; 7:30 - 8:30 weight training or rehab exercises, 10 pm lights out!
As you might imagine, lots of guys on the margins would drop off pretty quickly, especially if they were not feeling real confident about 'moving up levels' as Smith put it on this video. Besides being exausted and bruised on about 75% of your body, you were usually home/wife/girlfriend sick and if you were a college student with eligibiity left (as I was in 82) you knew your summer was being eaten away and if you didn't make the world team, you would go home just in time to start school. Good times (NOT)!
Eventually, it would start to show in practice and lots of guys were starting to look dogged in the room. Coach Baughman addressed this one day with a speech similar to Smith's, pointing out guys who may have been going thru the motions, exhorting us to remember our goal and to think of the camp as a tool to get to our goal of being world champions, et. The thing that really stuck out for me, however, was when he gave a speech that was something like this: "A lot of you men feel like shit right now. You felt like shit when you woke up after a full nights sleep, you felt like shit after the run and you feel like shit right now before you get ready to go balls-to-the-wall with two or three other guys who want the same spot you want. Well men , it is CRITICAL that you practice winning when you feel like shit! Any pubeless JV kid can win when he feels like everything is going great, body feels great, mind is sharp, moves feel crisp, hell that's easy! But going out there when everything hurts, when you can't remember how to finish an arm-throw, when you trip over the white line going onto the mat, THAT is when winning is a bit more of a challenge! I can guarantee you that you will feel this way again at some point in your competitive careers. Now is the time when you have to practice how you are going to respond, what your strategy is going to be, how you are going to shut him down, not give him a chance to exploit your decrepit situation. You MUST practice wrestling when you feel like shit!"
He said more, but this part of the speech really had an impact on me as a wrestler. I had a tendency to feel sorry for myself up to that time, especially when i was cutting weight. Even after I made the (very wise) decision to move up to 220 and heavyweight, I think I was overly sensitive to my mood or physical state before matches. Baughman and Smith re contextualized this feeling as just one more situation to train and prepare for, just like knowing what you were going to do if you were stuck in a front headlock or had a tough leg rider glued to your hip. If you know what to do when you aren't at your peak because you have drilled it hundreds of times, you are much less likely to feel helpless out there. Again, this was probably one of the best single pieces of advice in wrestling (and life) that I have ever been lucky enough to have been given. I hope those OK St. boys realize how fortunate they are!
Last edited by MOJO; 11-08-2007 at 03:21 PM.
Re: John Smith Oklahoma State Talks after Practice
The Hawkeye fan in me wants Coach Smith to be less than this. The wrestling fan in me applauds what he is trying to do for these young men.
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