WIN Article #115 Pay Attention to Wrestling Teammate Cleanup


Pay Attention to “Cleanup” of Your Wrestling Teammate Cleanup
By: Ben Peterson

Wrestlers and coaches find themselves doing a lot of “cleanup work.” After every practice, dual, road trip, tournament, and awards banquet there is cleanup. Yes, the obvious mats, lockeroom, bus, gym and uniforms all need cleaning after being used by a bunch of wrestlers. But I am talking of cleanup work needed for each wrestler and coach in his thinking and his confidence. Wrestlers and coaches will benefit from working together in both the physical and the mental aspects of a wrestler's life.

In a recent conversation with Greco-Roman World Champion Mike Houck he said, “Education is a messy process.” That caught my attention! Mike is a middle school Industrial Education teacher. No doubt his students have made a messy classroom more than once. Mike had to get accustomed to dealing with the cleanup process. Such is the process of learning. But Mike also pays attention to the mental encouragement of his students and his wrestlers.

A common sense proverb states:
“Where no oxen are, the trough is clean;
But much increase comes by the strength of the ox.” Proverbs 14:4
This statement reminds us of what farmers understand so well. If you raise animals you will daily need to keep the feed trough full. And at the end of the day you will be cleaning the barn. As much work as the animals create for a farmer he is glad he has animals to care for.

What about wrestling? Is wrestling a messy process? Absolutely! First, it has a major education process, but it can also push the emotions to the highest limits. So “messy” will happen.

Are you a wrestler? Then because we are emotional creatures, we need to do emotional recovery. Are you a coach? Then be glad for each wrestler you have working for your team, but be sure to look for how they need to be guided, motivated and cheered up. All of us can be helpful to the young wrestler(s) in our lives. They are learning to deal with tough situations after each task they do, so with the magnitude of wrestling events they could use some help.

Young beginning wrestlers can get discouraged with the hard work and newness of everything. A hundred reasons can cause a coach, parent or teammate to be needed to keep a beginner excited about wrestling, as well as the seasoned senior. The daily workouts, the bloody noses, sore and tired muscles, the intense schedule, making weight, the crowd, the singlet, getting pinned, the ride home, and much more will all need some cleanup and repair.

The older, more experienced wrestlers learn to deal with many of the above issues on their own. They are maturing and are learning to deal with their own “messes.” But occasionally they, too, need help. A wise coach and thoughtful teammate will notice and come to the aid of even the most experienced wrestlers. And what about the one who is stinging over his loss while everyone else is celebrating a team victory? The sooner that contact is made the better. If left alone they may lose heart and go backward in their effectiveness as an athlete and as a person.

Some very vivid memories of my own wrestling include someone coming to my side and saying a key word that sent me back to practice and better prepared for the next meet. As a coach my fondest memories are of helping wrestlers fight through major road blocks that brought them to their lowest points and then on to new heights. These were key times to building emotional stability.

New and serious challenges of life need to be dealt with. They can get quite messy even for the most experienced and mature. There is always a learning element in life, even for the oldest of us. Life in general is messy. We often hear it said that wrestling is a picture of life. Therefore, we should not be surprised that both life and wrestling can get messy.

Special events are a lot of fun. Weddings, birthdays, graduations, and a home, all need cleanup just like a practice, a dual, and a tournament. We need a plan and time to cleanup and put things back in order. After doing this for hundreds of wrestling and family events, I now know that even cleanup times can become memorable in very positive ways, especially when we plan for it. Working with my family and team to do cleanup for special events is still strong and fond in my mind.

I urge you to embrace the cleanup of facilities, but also the cleanup of your team members. Take note of them. Do they need help in dealing with pride because of a victory? Do they need help dealing with discouragement because of a loss? Maybe they need a friend to just confide in because there is no family or friend near. All of this is part of wrestling. A team or family member can often do more than a coach. I urge you to look for how you can help others deal with their “messiness” in wrestling and in life. Wrestlers, when the results of a match put you in an emotional tailspin, learn to honestly deal with it and also accept the help of others.

If you find yourself doing a lot of feeding (teaching, encouraging) and a lot of cleanup (correcting, refocusing and motivating) during your wrestling season then be thankful. You have “oxen” that are the gems of someone's family. So work to make them your prized performers.

Captains, upper classmen, family members, cheerleaders, fans, and coaches should remember to help with the cleanup before, during, and after daily practice and special events. Work to make the process simple but regular. Don't get so lost in reporting victories and dealing with uniforms, that you miss those who need some help to repair their hope and rebuild confidence.

Find other articles by Ben at: Today Ben & John Peterson run Camp of Champs Wrestling Camps.
Contact them at: PO Box 222 Watertown, WI 53094 800-505-5099

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