Wrestling Tough

wrestling tough chapman human kinetics 2005Wrestling Tough: Dominate Mentally on the Matt by Mike Chapman, 4/5

Filled with true stories of hard work, heart and the historic wins and losses of legendary wrestlers, this book helps put the small scrapes and bruises from my once-a-week wrestling class into perspective.  Chapman provides an inspiring introduction to the wrestling greats and an in-depth exploration of the mental characteristics they seem to share with each other (and accomplished athletes in all sports). Probably the most useful thing I learned from this book is how important the mental game is–even someone who has put in the hard work to develop a talent can lose to a less talented person who wants it more.  It’s not just about the physical moves, it’s about commitment, focus and knowing what you want.

While the book has a lot to offer, it frustratingly spends much more time describing winning qualities than explaining how to actually acquire them.  Also, there is a logical weakness to the author’s approach–just because you can find examples of winners who have a certain attribute doesn’t mean that there aren’t winners who lack that attribute, or even losers who have it in buckets.  In order to be truly compelling, I feel the book would have to focus not just on the characteristics of successful athletes, but how they differ from their less successful fellows.

Why I read it: Stephan Kesting mentioned it on grapplearts.com as one of his favorite sports psychology books, which put it on my radar.  Trying to get in a good mental space for an upcoming BJJ tournament moved it up on my list.

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