I had the opportunity and pleasure at one time to coach with someone I would consider a close friend. His name was Darrell Keller and he was during his wrestling career a two-time NCAA Champion and Outstanding Wrestler for Oklahoma State. One of the things I admired about him was the simplistic way he would express things. We were sitting together a few years back at the NCAA Championships, he had not been back to them in over 20 years and I asked him, “What do you think?” His answer was “ Not much has changed, two or three of these guys came to win it and the rest are just kind of participating.”
If you think about it this, it speaks volumes regards the attitude you must have as you enter tournament competition at any level. You not only need to be physically and mentally prepared to win, you must be determined and in absolute belief that you will be victorious. There can be no doubt or self-recrimination, no excuse to fall back on, no other choice or option open. There can only be a firm conviction of your own personal ability to wrestle your match, to control the action, to stay focused on the task at hand and to avoid distractions from the crowd, the referee or any previous injuries or illness you may have or have had going in and find a way to win.
I witnessed this same kind of attitude and conviction in both Terry Brands and JohnSmith during their international careers.
In 1989 in Martigny, Switzerland prior to his finals match and going for his third gold Medal, I heard John say, it's over, I've won it, they just haven't raised my hand yet. Never under estimate the power of positive self talk.
I was fortunate enough to coach with Terry for a number of years and his ability to stay on task, to be self disciplined and to be relentless in his pursuit of excellence, not just on the mat but in life itself, is part and parcel of the very fabric of the Champion he is. To win on the mat and in life an athlete needs to assimilate these same attributes.