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!