On Tuesday, February 21, Gene and Jeff Zanetti (aka The Zanetti brothers) stopped by BTS offices to give 10 BTS coaches a Wrestling Mindset session. For several of the coaches in attendance, this seminar on wrestling-focused mental training was timely, coming just a few days before the 2017 New York State Championships.
Keeping in mind that States is just a few days away, the focus of this seminar was the kind of communication coaches should have with athletes in order to maintain calm, especially prior to and during a competition with a lot of pressure on the line. The Zanetti Brothers previously led a session at the fall Coaches Ed Seminar in October, which was presented to both coaches and wrestlers.
Both Liju Abraham, Head Coach at Brooklyn Technical High School, and Will Yee, Assistant Coach at BTHS and BTS alum, recalled the lessons they learned at the previous Zanetti presentation.
"We definitely use parts of Wrestling Mindset already,” said Abraham. “Throughout the whole year, we've had that attitude that we want to be the one attacking and very hungry-- not the one who is backing up,” he continued. “We want to be the one that is always always aggressive and the the first one scoring. We want to be the one who is going after points as we’re surprising our opponents when they least expect it."
Yee added that "even though you have a predator mentality, it's not always about the intense stare down.” Yee continued by saying that “some athletes like to joke around before a match. Sometimes a wrestler just needs to take themselves out of the stressful environment and relax and calm down.”
Yee remembered that was true of himself when he was competing. "I was reminded of when I was an athlete,” Yee stated. “I always understood there were different types of athletes and different kinds of coaches. Everyone has their own way to get in the right mindset. Today really broadened my perspective."
For the coaches who attended, this seminar highlighted a major theme in coaching-- that a coach is also constantly learning. "Coaching is a learning experience,” said Coach Abraham.
“This is my first year as a head coach and Will's first year as an assistant coach. We're both learning our roles together and there isn't a set way to coach,” said Abraham. “We should always look at it as how we can be better for the position we're in,” he continued. “The wrestlers do that and we have to do that as coaches to best see how we can help our team."
Concerning States, Abraham isn’t that concerned and is relatively calm, especially after this Wrestling Mindset talk. "Absolutely feel ready to take on States,” said Abraham.
Abraham described how as coaches, “we need to convince our kids that they're ready for that level and that they're worthy of being there. We want them to enjoy being up there and not feel the pressure of needing to place.” Abraham concluded by saying that “ It's like the Zanetti Brothers said-- just wrestle your best and continue performing as you go."
When it comes to how Yee would want to communicate to his wrestlers about what New York State means, he said that "It's just another tournament and just another day in the office."
Coach Abraham summarized his takeaways from this specific presentation as "You don't want to put too much pressure on your guys. You want your guys to succeed, not fail. You need to use the right words, vocabulary and attitude."
Mike Ligala, Head Coach at Stuyvesant High School, confidently described how Wrestling Mindset will change his approach as a coach going forward. " I'm going to really take away the pressure of competition and winning,” began Ligala. He continued by saying that “I realized I might have been stressing [wrestlers] too much and not focusing on the process to becoming the best wrestlers. Winning will take care of itself.” Ligala concluded that “I will focus on them becoming the best wrestler they're capable of becoming.”
The seminar was helpful for coaches at every level. Andrew DosSantos, a Junior League coach at Inwood Academy, really felt that he learned a lot of easily applicable knowledge. "There are things [Zanetti] said that I can immediately use to build a strong mindset for kids,” said Dos Santos.
Dos Santos went on to explain the “four principles that would be the kid's creed and get kids understanding what it means to be a wrestler-- 1) Being thankful for the opportunity to wrestler 2) I will be aggressive and relentless 3) I will have no fear of losing or making mistakes 4) I will never give up.” Dos Santos described these principles as ones that “I can use this immediately and that the kids can easily remember. Those four principles can build their mindset as a wrestler and as a great person as they grow up."
Dos Santos described one of the Wrestling Mindset lessons he already touches on with his wrestlers-”The athlete who makes more mistakes usually wins.” Dos Santos elaborated on this by saying that “kids should know that they shouldn't be afraid to make mistakes because that’s how they’ll get better. This is especially true with my newer wrestlers, who are anxious about winning and don't yet know how to handle loss.They need to have that understanding that making mistakes will make them better."
Coach Abraham was grateful to BTS for giving coaches opportunities to improve-- "It’s big that BTS providing a coaches meeting where we, as coaches, can learn and educate ourselves as coaches. It’s a little less to worry about when you don't have to think ‘What do I need to do, where do I need to go, what do I need to study, etc. etc.’ “
Jaime Gray, BTS Program Manager, best summarized the seminar and its participants. "Wrestling Mindset is relentless when it comes to their preparation and delivery. I leave the room motivated every single time,” Gray began. “Additionally, I was happy to connect and learn from some of the top coaches in the city. Seeing them take time out of their schedule, during a busy week, reinforced the level of commitment they have to their athletes."
Thank you to the Zanetti brothers and to the attending coaches!