How You Can Help Your Son to Finally Beat His Arch Rival

Losing can be hard … especially when it comes from the same kid.

In high school, there was one kid who always seemed to have my number. To make things worse, I saw him at all of the summer tournaments.  I would get close to beating him, but somehow … he would always squeak out a win.

In my head, this kid was just a better wrestler. It never crossed my mind that maybe (with some intention and lots of hard work) I could have knocked this kid off.

I’m guessing your son has had this experience also.

But, this is where you come in Dad.

With a little bit of work (and another chance) – your wrestler can beat that kid who has always dominated him on the mat. 

Here are 7 steps to make it happen.

Step 1 – Record the match. Whether you use your iPhone or an old fashioned over-the-shoulder deal, just get the footage. This is going to lay the ground work for everything that has to be done in the future. This is going to be your roadmap.

Step 2 – With a knowledgeable coach, break down the video. I’m not talking about spending hours here … and a good coach can probably watch it once or twice and know exactly what has to be done. There are a few specific things we are looking for in the video.

Step 3 – Identify how your son is getting beat. This is going to be much harder if he got beat 10-0 than if he was beat 6-4. Either way, you can still get value out of doing this.  Ask questions like:

  • Is your son getting caught every time reaching for this kids head?
  • Is your son not creating any movement or worse yet is he being moved around like a chess piece out on the mat?
  • Or is your son getting dominated in the top or bottom positions?

Don’t stop watching the video until you can identify at least 2 situations where your son is getting beat by this kid.

Step 4 – With coach, drill these positions and eliminate these bad habits.

  • For reaching, it might be making sure your son is still defending his legs with one arm while the reaching arm comes from the bottom up … not top down where he would be exposing his legs (and welcoming a shot from his opponent).
  • If he’s not creating movement, then start working this in practice. Movement creates angles. Angles create opportunities. Opportunities create points. Points win matches.
  • Spend more time getting into the finer details of top or bottom position and what your wrestler can do next time he finds himself there.  The “fine print” is where moves are successful or fail.

This step is so important … and might take 2-4 weeks to become a habit. The key is not to move on to another move before closing down this gap in your son’s style.

Step 5 – Identify his weakness. This is the fun part. By now, we shut down the 1-2 big opportunities for your son to lose the same way he has in the past. Now, with the help of coach – we look for chinks in his armor. Places where this kid can be beat.

  • Does this kid always lead with one leg? If so, what offense can your son work on to exploit this weakness?
  • Does this kid like to stay heavy on the head? What are 1-2 offensive moves that
    will take advantage of this? (I used to love it when guys were hanging heavy on my head because I had learned a slide-by that was practically unstoppable … and really slick).
  • Or does this kid like to hop around, stand up straight, and generally get out of good wrestling position as the match wears on? This means his legs are tired and this can be easily taken advantage of with some work.

Step 6 – Drill these offensive techniques. This is the same as step 4 – but this time we are thinking offensively. Remember, closing down your son’s weaknesses and creating an offense that is effective will take some time. It takes time for a technique to go from something your wrestler hasn’t seen before to something that they do without thinking. Sometimes months. For offense, it will take time for your son to learn the small details of the setups, how a move feels, and the timing. Keep him motivated and focused because this is what wins matches.

Step 7 – WIN! By now we’ve reviewed video with a knowledgeable coach. We’ve identified the 1-2 major places (physical or situational) where he is getting beat and have corrected these. We’ve drilled them with perfect form and enough repetition. We’ve also identified this kids weaknesses – and have chosen 1-2 techniques that can exploit these weaknesses. We’ve worked through the setups and have gone over the finer details on where/how/when these moves work.

All in all, this process might take a good month or two from start to finish. There will be a lot of work that has to be done … but it’s worth it to see that smile on your son’s face.

Follow this process once and watch the world of wrestling open up to your son. He will see that he can control his wrestling destiny … and that hard work does payoff.

So right now, make a point to review that tape of your wrestler’s loss to that kid. Talk to the coach and get to work!

I want to hear about how your son felt after finally beating his arch rival.


7 Ways Wrestling Will Help Your Son Kick Life’s Ass

7 Ways Wrestling Will Help Your Son Kick Life’s Ass

Every once in a while, I remembered my high school wrestling teammates and I would start to feel sorry for ourselves.  Especially when we were cutting weight or training hard.

Then my wrestling coach would put things in perspective by telling us that were weren’t in war … and nobody was trying to kill us.

His point was that things could be much worse.

I appreciate this now because life can be hard … and most of us hadn’t seen hard yet.

I’ve come to realize that the sport of wrestling (and a great coach) has helped me become more successful in more ways than one.

With the right coach, I’m confident that your wrestler will get these same benefits.

So here are 7 ways that wrestling will help your wrestler kick life’s ass.

(This is much better than the alternative … which would be your wrestler getting his ass kicked by life.)

  1. Wrestling helps teach about losing. It will happen … we all will eventually get a whoopin’ both on the mat and in life. In wrestling this might be much clearer cut than in life. Some of us learn to struggle, fight, and come back harder. Others learn to roll over and die. Those people were not wrestlers.
  2. Wrestling helps teach goal setting. I’ve heard that only 5% of the population has a goal. For wrestlers … they all want to win the championship. A good wrestling program (and coach) will look at strengths and weaknesses and get strategic about what needs to happen to reach that goal. This way of thinking is helpful for other areas of life too.
  3. Wresting teaches the value of having a mentor. A mentor is someone who has traveled the path you want to take. They have seen the pitfalls and know the risks and rewards. They know the shortcuts and the rabbit holes to avoid. We can all use some type of mentor in business, in marriage, in parenting, or in sport. Having a mentor will help your wrestler go further in life.
  4. Wrestling teaches physicality. Let’s face it, most kids nowadays ware so unaware of their bodies that it’s disturbing. I had a professor in chiropractic college remark that I was able to pick up chiropractic technique much faster than most … and this wasn’t because I was a gifted learner. And it wasn’t because I played video games a lot as a kid. It was because I was used to controlling my body in a way to produce a specific outcome. This is what wrestling is all about. This can be useful whether your wrestler becomes a surgeon or a mixed martial artist.
  5. Wrestling teaches self-discipline. We all know what this is. Watching your weight, training when tired, getting through tough practices or getting enough sleep. Many adults struggle with this because they’ve never had to perform at a higher level.
  6. Wrestling teaches delayed gratification. I once read a book called The Road Less Traveled. This book made the bold statement that delayed gratification was the sole reason why many adults struggle with their finances, their marriages, their health/weight, and their careers. What better time to learn this principle than as a young wrestler. Yes, the M&Ms might affect your weight later this week or staying up to play video games might make have a crappy practice.
  7. Wrestling teaches about pressure. Sometimes, it all comes down to that final test in school, that final business meeting, or that one shot to talk to that cute girl. A good wrestler is used to pressure and doesn’t freeze when they need to act. My college wrestling coach used to call this a sense of urgency. When the pressure is on, you act … and let the chips fall where they may.

So there are 7 ways that wrestling will prepare your wrestler for the real word. In reality, there are probably 700 ways … but these are a good start.

Wrestling legend Dan Gable one said “Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy.”

Let’s make life easier on our wrestlers.

If you liked this article then share it with someone who has a young wrestler … or is thinking about getting a son started in the sport. They need to see that the sport of wrestling teaches you about much more than wrestling.


5 Things I Wish I Knew About Training (When I Was Still Wrestling)

5 Things I Wish I Knew About Training (When I Was Still Wrestling)

My good friend Anton Dietzen ( and I got to go to a Perform Better Seminar in Chicago this past weekend. While we were there, we were catching up about our families, our careers, and the “old days” back at University of Illinois.

Both Dietzen and I have followed very similar career (and family) paths. Likewise, we both have strong interests in trying to give back to the wrestling community.

Anyways, it was good to see this old wrestling buddy. It was also good to pick up some training tips from some of the best trainers and exercise scientists in the world.

You see, when I go to these things I am always thinking:

“How does this apply to wrestling?”

“How would I have used this principle when I was training?”


“How can I teach this to my son to make him a better wrestler?”

So here they are, 15 hours and about $300 worth of (what I felt) was the best wrestling “stuff” in this seminar. I hope you get something out of it.

  1. Wrestlers need to train how fast they relax. This tip was given by the world known back expert Dr. Stuart McGill – who has worked with top athletes (like George St. Piere of the UFC) to get them better. He found that the world’s most elite performers are able to relax 6x faster than lesser athletes. This way, they don’t fight their bodies when attacking their opponents.
  2. Running can really hurt your wrestler. This one hit home because I liked to run … and did a lot of it while wrestling. While running does add to your VO2 max (aerobic capacity) it will take away from your anaerobic capacity (explosiveness). Because wrestling is estimated to be 90% anaerobic – you want to train your wrestler to become an “anaerobic monster” … in the words of Dr. McGill.
  3. Strength is not all that important. What is more important is speed and impact of force. This ties back to takeaway number 1 – because how fast you are able to relax determines your speed. Impact of force is determined by core strength. One of the greatest wrestlers in history – John Smith is a perfect example of a wrestler who was strong enough but fast as lighting. I’d be willing to guess his core was second to none as well.
  4. Wrestlers need to “twitch” more often. Not nervous twitching, but purposeful twitching to train “fast neurology”. It teaches you to activate your muscles quickly and to relax quickly. In a wrestling match, the first person to get to an offensive position might just win because they did. I guess I never really realized that this was something you could train – and actually improve upon. McGill goes one step further and says that you should actually train twitching in positions that your wrestlers are often in.
  5. Wrestlers should not use an alternating grip when deadlifting. This is because this grip reduces how much hand grip strength is needed during the lift … and grip strength is kind of important for wrestlers. This one is obvious now, but somehow I missed this point during and even after my wrestling career. Going one step further, wrestlers should probably use a fat bar different for some lifts to further enhance their grip strength.

So there you have it. 5 training tips that I learned this weekend. For me, training the rate of relaxation is probably the biggest “ah ha” that I had. I know I will be working on this with my son.

What about you?

Which one of these principles can you use to make your wrestler better? Pick one and work on it with your wrestler. It might be the edge that makes the difference in the championship match.

Good Luck!


My Plan To Work Less – and Why You Should Join Me.

My Plan To Work Less – and Why You Should Join Me.

I recently spoke with my Mom about my Dad – who passed away in 2002 from cancer. During the talk, my mom made a statement that blew my mind.

She told me that my dad wished he had worked less and enjoyed life more.

While this brought tears to my eyes (he died at 48) … it also lit a fire under me.

My Dad was never able to make this a reality – but with some discipline (and planning) you and I can. We can be there for our family, our kids, and (hopefully) wrestling.

There are a thousand reasons why I personally want to work less. I want to be around for the little things. I want to help my wife more with our 3 (soon to be 4) kids. I want to be able to put my kids to sleep and be home when they wake up. I don’t want wake up one day at age 65 (God willing) and regret missing out on my family.

To be completely honest, another big motivator is wrestling. I want to be around the sport with my son. I want to be there for his big wins, his losses, his questions, and his injuries.

So here is my plan to make this happen. Hopefully you will get something out of it.

1. I plan to push hard during my work time. Because my wife and I own our business – it is really easy for me to be relaxed on how I spend my time at work. My wife is my boss 🙂 – and to be honest – she is way too easy on me. I’ve always found that the things that move the dial at work are the things that make me feel uncomfortable. I plan to get uncomfortable much more often.

2. I am going to work on what’s important and not just urgent. I recently read a book called The One Thing. The basic message was that you can get 80% of the results from 20% of the actions. I have found this to be true. In the past, I would like to check 10 things off my list to feel like I accomplished something and the only thing left was usually the one thing that actually mattered. No more.

3. I will say no more often. This sounds really selfish, but I think of this as also saying yes to my family – and spending time with my family, my wife, and my kids in sports … and eventually wrestling with my son. In the past, I have been a people pleaser and might my family’s needs behind that of others who need me. I want to be there for any and every one, but let’s face it … we just can’t do it if we want more time with our families.

4. I am going to watch our spending more. Because my wife and I are both very fortunate to make a good living as chiropractors – we have gotten sloppy in this area. Currently, we are in the market for a new mini-van (I never thought I would be saying that) – and we can spend 45,000 for something new or we can spend 15-20,000 on something used. This is a struggle for me because I think that because we work hard that we deserve nice things. This might be true, but I like time with my family more than nice things.

5. I plan to leverage myself and my time. This one is so exciting to me because it makes me see endless possibilities. Again, we are fortunate to have our own business and we are looking to soon bring on another chiropractor. If we find the right person – and have the right systems in place – then we might be able to work less while maintaining our income. Only time will tell but I am excited about the possibility.

So there you have it – my public statement about working less. For those of you who know me, you know this is going to be a change – I have been working 7 days a week for 3 years. Like my Dad (and many of you I’m sure) I work a lot of hours because I’ve always felt it’s what we are supposed to do.

For me, I think I’m supposed to be there for my family first. Yes, we need to make a living to cover the bills – but I need to honor my Dad and do what took him 30 years to figure out. Do what he wished he could have done if he had another chance.

What about you? I’m guessing you feel the same way about your family and your kids otherwise you probably wouldn’t be reading this.

What can you do to be more effective at work and hopefully be able to enjoy every moment of your wrestlers career?

The 3 Psychological Needs Necessary to Motivate Your Wrestler

The 3 Psychological Needs Necessary to Motivate Your Wrestler

My brother John and I didn’t start wrestling until high school. While we had a lot of catching up to do, neither of us minded working hard. We literally trained and wrestled year round.

By the time we graduated high school, we were competitive with kids who had been wrestling (in some cases) 10 years longer than us.

What did we have working for us … and what does your wrestler need to reach his full potential?

Intrinsic Motivation – or motivation that comes from within.

I’ve often wondered what kept us going. We weren’t the best … but we kept at it.

Come to find out, there were 3 psychological needs we were meeting through wrestling. These needs allowed us to stay “intrinsically motivated” – or motivated by nobody other than ourselves.

We’ve all seen it. Great wrestlers who cut their careers short because they don’t enjoy the sport anymore. Maybe a parent pushed them too hard, they cut too much weight, or they just didn’t have any fun.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this – especially how it relates to my 5 year old son. So what can we (you and I) do to help increase what is called “intrinsic motivation” – that is our wrestler’s own motivation train and compete.
Research shows that 3 psychological needs must be met to allow for intrinsic motivation.

These 3 needs are:

  1. The Need for Autonomy – This is a fancy term for choice. Your wrestler needs to feel as though they have a say in the matter. In a sport as tough as wrestling, there is a fine line between pushing them and forcing them. I think that line is crossed when a wrestler starts cutting weight too young, starts competing too young (if they don’t enjoy it), or is pushed too hard in training. Personally, I know I need to be careful with this one. My brother John and I decided to wrestle because we wanted to. Nobody pushed us into the sport.
  2. The Need for Relatedness – This is your wrestler creating a bond with his teammates and coach. Studies show that it is essential for motivation to come from the inside. This might look like your wrestler forming deep relationships with his teammates and coach. For me, I know this was true. I had 3 of my high school and college teammates stand up in my wedding, my brother was on the team, and my high school coach was like a second father. I wasn’t going nowhere.
  3. The Need for Competency – This simply means that your wrestler feels like he is getting better. Who wants to keep doing something that you feel you are making no progress on? Ways to increase this in your wrestler include proper short term goals, effective practices, and feedback from coaches to encourage. For John and I, this one was simple. We started whooping kids that were kicking our butts just a few months back. Talk about motivation to work harder!

An easy way to remember these points is the acronym C.A.R. (Competancy, Autonomy, and Relatedness).
Remember, if your wrestler isn’t motivated to get better, then no amount of technique, training, or nutritional work will matter.

They need to want this for themselves. Luckily, we now know how we can create an environment where that can happen more naturally.

What’s next?

Make it so that one of these needs can be fulfilled better through wrestling. Maybe you get a best friend to join the team (relatedness), give them a choice in their training – like early or later in the day (autonomy), or start setting and hitting short term goals (competency).

Either way, motivation should start to increase – which means more fun and ultimately more winning.
Good Luck to You and Your Wrestler!

-Joe Paun

5 Proven Ways to Help Your Wrestler Reach His Goals

We are all looking for ways to help our wrestlers win more matches. Often, we think wrestling technique, nutrition, or mat strategy as a good place to start. While these are very important, there is one thing that I think trumps them all.


“Really … that’s all you’ve got Joe” – you might be saying to yourself.

To that, I say YEP. Hear me out.

Without goals, you will not improve as fast as you can on your wrestling technique, nutrition, or mat strategy.

I’d be willing to guess that less than 5% of wrestlers have clear goals during practice and competition – other than wrestle hard or win. I’d also be willing to bet money that the highest level wrestlers (National and Olympic champions) have very specific goals 90+% of the time.

So, what can we do as fathers of wrestlers to increase the chances of them reaching their goals?

Here are a few proven tips:

  1. Have your wrestler write down his specific and challenging goal.
    This one is so easy … it’s almost unbelievable. Studies show that putting your goal down on paper will increase the chances of reaching it by almost 40%. The key here is that it is specific and challenging. It needs to be specific to make your brain know what success looks like and challenging to make you dig deep to reach it.  No one gets excited over a wimpy goal.
  2. Have your wrestler share his goal with you, his coach, and anyone else who will support him.
    So writing down your goal will give you a 40% boost over the competition. To double these odds, have your son share it with you, his coach, and his close friends or family. Amazingly, this will double the odds of your son reaching his goal – taking it to 80%.
  3. Create a motivational atmosphere.
    I read this one and though of the movie Vision Quest. Again, research says it works! Studies show that “triggers” can be conscious or subconscious. Regardless, they will have the same effect on you. So get those success posters up in his bedroom – get a quote on his phone, and let this new research work while he sleeps.
  4. Let your wrestler know (and see) that you value high achievement.
    This one is really cool … and applies directly to us wrestling dads. A study done on college students found that those students who were exposed to their father’s names worked harder and performed better … when their dads valued high achievement. So have that discussion with your son, and try to make it to those important competitions. Also, the closer the relationship … the harder the students worked!
  5. Have a “Do Work” Attitude.
    By this, I mean make sure your wrestler understands that any worthwhile goal is going to be a grind. A technique to help with this is called “mental contrasting” and research shows that those who use it are much more successful at reaching their goals. To do it, have your wrestler think of the positive effects of reaching his goal, then what challenges he might have to overcome, then more positive effects, then more challenges. This will give him a realistic understanding of the work involved in reaching that goal – but also remind him of the multiple (and exciting) benefits.

So, no matter what your wrestler has been working  … have a discussion today about goals. Better yet, choose two of these proven methods and put them to work on those goals. I know I will be doing the same with my son.

The Best to You and Your wrestler!