Have you ever wondered what a coach is saying to the wrestlers right when they finish a match? Sometimes it looks like discussion of strategy or philosophy or just what some people would call feedback or constructive criticism. The analogy I’d like to make is a great coach who has invested 100s or 1000s of hours into coaching an athlete is diagnosing a problem like a mechanic when you bring your car in for a check engine light. You know something is wrong with the car but you can’t tell by looking at it. In the same way a coach can see something like a technique that needs to be fixed in practice or a strategy that can be implemented to achieve better results. Usually the check engine light is not fixed by just plugging in the diagnostic tool though, the mechanic then has to fix the broken part. After that, boom! The car is fixed and is on the road. This is exactly what the coach is talking to the wrestler about after a match: How a technique needs to be executed to score or maybe how a technique can be used to prevent the opponent from scoring. And just like the mechanic taking the car into the workshop, the coach and athlete need to go to practice to work on what needs fixing. Repeating this process many many times over a season is how a coach can help a wrestler keep getting better results as the season winds down.
But wait! Sometimes it’s just the low fuel light! This is another thing the coach does with a wrestler right after a match. They refuel their confidence level by telling them something they did that is working well. It might be they hit a move they have been working on, or maybe they used a setup to make their shot easier. Whatever that may be and there are 1000s of possibilities, the coach can boost the wrestlers confidence by just giving them positive feedback on what they just did.
None of this is focusing on if they won or lost the match and many people say getting your hand raised causes a wrestler to forget about any mistakes they made because they won the match. There is a lot of truth to that. To become the best wrestler you can be you need to continuously improve and letting your coach give you feedback is part of the process. That’s why all of us old guys hold our former coaches in such high regard. They helped us achieve our goals and those big ones like winning a State title, becoming an All-American, etc are the shining moments that we cherish forever. What went into that was our coach diagnosing the check engine light and low fuel light after matches and then helping us fix the problem in the “workshop.”