Good Example Of The Importance Of Coaching Psychology And Philosophy In Wrestling Essay
I had the opportunity to interview coach Rod Tomas, a local wrestling coach, and it was interesting to hear him talk about the school district that he has made his home, and his personal coaching style, and coaching philosophy.
Tomas has spend the last 14 years coaching, but before coming to Maysville he worked in significantly larger school districts. This allowed him to develop his skills as an assistant coach under some of the higher paid head coaches in the state, but it did not give him the one-on-one time with students, really developing his athletes that he would have liked. That is why he prefers acting as the head coach of a smaller program.
The Maysville school district, according to Tomas has a relatively small, and low diversity population, with less than 250 kids in grades 9-12, and with less than 20 total varsity wrestlers, but despite the district’s small size, he has managed to pull off some pretty amazing score statistics. If fact, the Maysville program, which has one of the smallest teams in the state, still had 7 wrestlers compete at the state level in 2015’s championships, with 5 of those 7 placing in the top ten. It is rare for schools three times the size of Maysville to place so many wrestlers so highly at state, which demonstrates that something about Tomas’s coaching skill must be exceptional.
During the course of the interview, I came to believe that it is some of Tomas’s out of the box approaches that have led to this success. Tomas focuses less on kids with talent, and more on kids with passion and work ethic. He tries to focus on grades as much as he does on the mat, and he generally invests his energy, in coaching with focusing on the person he is molding, and how they set goals rather than on perfect for or technique. This builds athletes with character on and off the mat, and it shows.
A more in depth view of his coaching style begins to expose the psych factors that he has incorporated into his own coaching mission. For example, in chapter three we learned that MST or mental skills training is as important as physical training for any athlete. This is demonstrated in Coach Tomas’s program. He describes his reason for mental training like this “I want to teach them to be strong leaders, to have persevering resilience, to work through discomfort, using their mind, staying calm when things get tough, and trusting in their body’s ability to just go out there and leave it all on the mat. I think that if he can master that on my mats, he can become a stronger person in life’s adversities, a better student, and so much more.” This is important, because it teaches students to stand up to a great challenge, even when they feel like they are failing. They can remain calm and think through the problem at hand, rather than panicing and loosing as a result. While mental training is only a small part of what needs done in each practice, it gives students greater access, in moments of panic, to the skills that they know, but may have trouble focusing on. For example, in wrestling, when your opponent has you in a cradle, it is easy to just panic and give up. But if you take the time to think through your situation, you may realize that all you need to do is cross your ankles and use your torso’s strength to straighten your body and you can get out of the hold. But recalling this skill in a moment of panic requires a solid mental training in addition to learning the escape technique.
Similarly, I think perhaps Tomas’s greatest skill as a coach is his ability to provide motivation. Our text book stressed the importance of using goals setting, both at the individual and team level, in order to create a better athlete, and a better student. This is obvious in Tomas’s mission for the program. He said: ““Good, Better, Best, Wolverine’s Never Rest, Until Our Good Is Better, Until Our Better’s Best”
It sounds corny, I know, but it is at the heart of what we do. I want my kids to face their struggles, be it on the mat, or in the classroom, head one. I want them to always strive to raise the bar, raise that C a letter grade this quarter, improve your stamina in a lateral press by a few seconds, show me on the mat that you have improved your technique and when you reach that goal, set newer higher goals, and reach for that too.” His desire to see students set and reach goals is not limited. He keeps pushing them to raise the bar which does, as our lecture suggested, constantly move the athlete’s toward their potential.
Generally, I enjoyed both watching Tomas coach, and interviewing him about his coaching style. It is clear that he is passionate about his team’s improvement both on and off the mat, and that he focuses a lot of his time on his student’s development of the mental skills, and motivating factors for being strong athletes, and not just on the technical wrestling skills they use on the mat. This makes him a stronger coach, and a quality teacher.
R. Tomas. Personal Communication. Conducted on March 27, 2015.
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