I just wanted to let everyone know that I made a big mistake. I said Phil went to Palo Alto HS, and I meant Gunn HS. I know he goes to Gunn, I'm not sure what I was thinking. Those schools are rivals, probably not a good idea to be getting them mixed up. It's like saying Berkeley when you mean Stanford or North Valley when you mean Hidden Valley or Japan when you mean China. I'm pretty sure war has been started for less.

Anyway, thanks to Mr. Doe (Patrick?) for the suggestion to keep my coaching postings going. I have started to have some convictions in my coaching philosophies as I start to put them into practice, so I guess it won't hurt to write about them also. I'm sure they will grow and change over time, but these are the things going through my head right now.

Today I ran our team conditioning. Jason, Ray, Vic, and I usually run all parts of practice, whether it is warm-up, technique, drilling, live, conditioning, or cool-down and today I finished up the day by putting the team through about 15 minutes of conditioning.

Sometimes it is tough to run conditioning. If you have the right type of athlete and are confident in them, you know that whatever task you give them they will do as hard as they possibly can. But a LOT of people will coast or not go as hard as possible, or even the best will have an off day where it is hard to mentally push themselves to their physical limits and beyond. That is why I am there. I get to push, coax, demand whatever that you go harder than you think you can, and get you to push past your comfort zones and the limits you put on yourself. But that is difficult, because I can't make an athlete do the work. Ultimately they still have to do it. There are some things I can do, like tell them to get 2 sprints down and back in 22 seconds, that has a set goal and very clear meauring stick. Either you hit your time or you didn't and need to get back on the wall (we call them Sprints in the Hole and run them with 2 groups, 22 seconds for the work, 20 seconds for the next group to get on the wall. What happens is you get about 1 minute of rest for every 22 seconds of work, but when you work, you REALLY have to go hard to get your time, and the team starts hitting failure after 4-6 of them depending on how hard their practice was.). But coming up with a lot of different exercises where you can judge the whole team is tough. You can do pushups for example, but you might not catch everyone if they have their butt in the air or don't go all the way down. Like I said before, if you have the right people that are going to do it right, this isn't an issue. You can't really be successful by taking the easy way out, but apparently it is human nature.

Anyway, today I had to trust the guys were going to push themselves and I was VERY happy with how they did. We started off just jogging in a circle around the room, and I talked them through a wrestling match as I called out 'sprint' or 'recover'. What I mean is I had them jog like they were getting ready for a match, then when I yell sprint it is like the first period and they have to go out hard and set the tone and be offensive and go get a takedown. I picked a few individuals and once they had passed somebody or when I thought the group was working hard enough they jogged and get ready for the second period and so on. Then we did a 6 minute tobata. Tobatas are pretty tough, but again you really have to push yourself. It is a structured, 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest, where you alternate between 2 exercises. I chose mountain climbers and jumping knee tucks (which suck by the way). Every time somebody did a double jump when they landed on the knee tuck we added a set. It was pretty tough, Then we finished up with pushups, but it took a while for the whole group to do them right. I don't care if they do 15 or 50, but they had better do them right. It took about 2 minutes (I'm not kidding here) for our group to get into perfect pushup position and do 17 pushups. After that they did about 2 minutes of burnout pushups that really got their shoulders going. Once they hit failure they went to their knees and kept going and it was a competition to see who could go longest.

Total Time 15 minutes. Conditioning usually doesn't have to be too long, but it needs to be mentally challenging. Wrestling is mentally tough, and you need to train your mind to keep going even when you are tired, and that is the purpose of conditioning. The side benefit is you get in great shape, but the TRUE benefit is a 'grit-your-teeth and keep going' attitude about working hard when you are physically tired. That way in a match, you don't mentally break or give up EVER. It is all in your mind. Your body could keep going forever, I'm convinced of that, and there are literally thousands of stories about amazing feats of human endurance, strength, stamina, etc. It is just getting these kids to believe it and not listen to what their mind is saying. It is simple and all it takes is enough practice going past their comfort zones, because that is going to keep pushing their physical limits until eventually they never hit that limit in a wrestling match.

I love conditioning. It is one of the best parts of our sport. It is such an equalizer, because anybody can be in great shape, but only the toughest actually get there. One of my favorite t-shirts is pretty ratty that says "WRESTLING: Character Building, Character Revealing". How true is that? It was from the Grants Pass Middle School District tournament or something and I traded it from a 7th grader for a Stanford Wrestling Shirt the year I graduated college. Pretty good deal if you ask me. It really simply illustrates why most wrestlers are attracted to the mentality of the sport and only a wrestler will understand that, I don't need to explain. Now I just wish I could find it.

Anyway, this rant started as a quick post and now it is so long nobody will even read the whole thing. Let me know what you think.

Keep working- keep pushing past your limits, on the wrestling mat and off it-

Matt Gentry
Stanford University
Assistant Wrestling Coach
650-723-9486 (office)
650-725-8642 (fax)

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