A Letter To You On The First Day Of Wrestling
To my past self,
Greetings! This is you. Well, you from years into the future. You’re about to do something you never thought you’d do before. You’re about to become a wrestler. You’re about to embark on a journey that literally transforms you from the ground up. Before you step into the mat room, though, there are a few things you need to know.
First, you’re going to sweat. A lot. You’re entering an environment where you’ll be expected to run miles on end, do push-ups until your hands begin to cramp, dive over your teammates with monkey rolls, sit against the wall to the point that your legs turn to jelly...the list goes on.
And that’s just the warm-up. My advice is to drink water every day and cut out the soda.
You’ll learn how to move in ways you never thought possible and bring someone down in ways you never thought imaginable. Learning how to shoot may feel like a weird dance move at first, but you’re going to rely on that movement for the rest of your wrestling career. You’re going to learn how to hit double leg takedowns and single leg takedowns and grow confident each time you hit an ankle pick successfully.
That is, until you wrestle against one of the veterans and get squashed in seconds.
You’re going to face that wall day after day after day, thinking that you’ll never get better. But you will. You may not realize it at first, but each time you hit that takedown in practice makes you a little smoother. Those days you think the coach hates you because you’re burning holes in your socks from running are the days that build your conditioning. Finally, those days where you get the crap kicked out of you by someone bigger or more experienced are the days that build your heart. You’ll last longer each match, inch by inch and second by second until you finally get the chance to compete.
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That first match is going to scare the hell out of you. Even if you walk around with a swagger of confidence outside the mat room, it’s going to go away once you realize what’s in front of you. Just you, the opponent, and the official. I can’t guarantee you’ll win your first match. If you don’t don’t feel discouraged. It just means you will go back to the drawing board.
Yet when you do when your first match, when the whistle blows and the referee raises your hand to the crowd, you’re going to love that feeling. Embrace it, treasure it, because you’re going to be chasing that feeling for years. That feeling is going to make every stomping you get in practice worth it. It’s going to fill your appetite on days where you’re starving from cutting weight and it’s going to make every sacrifice worth it.
You’re not going to be alone on this journey. You’ll have friends and family outside of practice who will support you, but not all of them will understand. That’s where your team comes in. They know the difference between light-hearted in practice and walking away broken-hearted after a match. They’re going to see you at your best and worst and make you tougher. On days where you want to yell because you can’t run any farther, they’ll be there to pick you up to keep moving. You’ll do the same for them, too. They’re not just your teammates, they’re your other family. Your wrestling family. Even if you think they hated you when you first walked in the room.
You’re going to enjoy these years wrestling and competing. You’ll win matches, tournaments, and even get mentioned in public here and there. But one day, it’ll have to end, at least this part of your career. It’ll be hard at first since you’ve put so much time and effort into this, but you’ll be okay. You’ll think back to every day where you thought about quitting and say, “Wow, that was stupid.” You’ll be amazed at how mature you’ve grown from such a short amount of time. When I said that wrestling will transform you, I meant it. Wrestling will take you places you never thought possible. It’ll make you a better person because you know how to respond to stressful situations with poise and dignity.
All it takes is just that first step into the mat room. I know you’re nervous about what may happen. The simplest thing I can tell you is to have fun and enjoy it, because you’re going to have a fantastic time through it all. Keep that fun with you wherever you go.
The wrestler you’ve become
Fundamentals are crucial to success regardless of what level you are at. Chael Sonnen was one of the best wrestler's to enter into MMA, and he used his foundational wrestling to get there! WRESTLING FUNDAMENTALS FROM THE BAD GUY BY CHAEL SONNEN HAS WHAT YOU NEED!