West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... On Sacrifice: Is it Good or Bad?

"Sacrifice -- The Essence of Excellence or the Folly of Fanaticism"

This "Saga of Two Wrestlers" is true, except for the two wrestlers' names. In the end, you will have to judge for yourselves.


A junior in high school, Tommy was an exceptional wrestler. His feats on the mat were a joy to observe. Tommy's forte was "pinning" and he scored points like Babe Ruth hit homeruns. At the end of the season, Tommy was primed for a state title at the 112 pound weight class. Like many wrestlers, Tommy had to count calories. In fact, making weight was a much greater challenge for Tommy than many of his opponents were.

With the district championships starting on Friday, Tommy "weighed out" after Thursday night's practice two pounds under weight. His coach was very pleased. Unfortunately, the temptation to eat was too great for Tommy that night. Tommy was four pounds overweight for the district tournament and was eliminated from the event.

Tommy's coach came from the old school of wrestling, where not making weight for a match was an unpardonable sin. All the wrestlers on the team were well aware of this rule. Even though Tommy was undefeated during the regular season (17-0), the coach did not award him a varsity letter that year. Tommy was devastated and never wrestled again.


A sophomore in high school, Andy was methodical as a wrestler, outscoring his opponents by 4 or 5 points on a regular basis. He wasn't graceful on the mats, but Andy knew how to win. He had the tenacious dedication of a Lou Gehrig. Many mat enthusiasts who knew him believed that Andy had the potential to be a state champion.

Wrestling at 112 and 119 during the season, Andy finished the year with a 15-1-1 record. He planned to compete at 112 pounds in the district tourney. Andy, too, liked to eat and came into practice the Monday before the competition well overweight.

Since Andy only had four days of practice before Friday night's districts, his coach (also Tommy's mentor) bluntly suggested that Andy move up to 119. Andy responded, "No, coach, I'll make weight. I can win states at 112. I promise I'll be down by Friday." "You better be!" responded the irritated coach. Andy was well aware of the consequences if he didn't make weight.

On Friday night, Andy qualified for the 112-pound weight class at the district championships. As a matter of fact, he was two pounds under weight.

To this day, Tommy despises the coach and Andy reveres him. Was the coach too harsh on Tommy? Was Andy's sacrifice too extreme for a young high school athlete?

You make the call.

... on the Championship Wrestler

What are the makings of a champion wrestler?

I have mentioned time and again in my writings that the "champion" is willing to go that "extra mile" to succeed in his sport. Of course, such dedicated effort includes pushing oneself at practice and drilling to perfect moves. He also eats properly and seeks out the most challenging adversaries in practice and competition. But most importantly, he is able to face up to his athletic failings without making excuses. Yet, it doesn't end here.

A belief in oneself and his abilities is a must for winning performances. At this point, you might ask, "How does one develop such inner strength?" Well, the answer is mental visualization. Yes, the champion mentally views the perfection of his moves and victories. He does it in the following manner:

1. The champion mentally reenacts the maneuvers practiced after daily workout sessions are completed.
2. The champion pictures in his mind the moves he will successfully perform in competition.
3. The champion actually sees his hand being raised, prior to the competition.

Just as the superior student studies for an exam, so it is with the champion who mentally memorizes winning. Hence, positive mental training, as well as a desire to train to the fullest of one's ability, is an important element for developing into a wrestler of championship caliber.

"It is very hard to win if one is worried about losing."
- William A. Welker

Editor's Note: A former Pennsylvania State Champion, Dr. Welker is a nationally recognized authority on amateur wrestling who has published hundreds of articles and two best-selling books (The Wrestling Drill Book, 1st & 2nd Editions) on the subject in which 1000s of copies have been sold nationwide. His drill book can be purchased at www.Amazon.com or www.HumanKinetics.com.

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