Tournament Strategies for Super 32

Preparing for Super 32 can create extra amounts of stress, self doubt or anxiety. You train hard for weeks and months in the preseason and want to do better than last year. Now you have put out an expectation to perform well, and you let the pressure get to you.

We want you to perform your best as well so we've put together some sharp tournament tips and reminders to ensure you bring your best on and off the mat come tournament time. Here are 5 tournament tips for Super 32 and how to apply them:

1. See what works, not where you’re at. Several athletes will go into a preseason tournament like Super 32 ‘to see where I’m at’' by judging their value as a wrestle by their record at Super 32. This strategy doesn’t make too much sense as your record at 1 tournament isn’t necessarily an indicator of how much you improved from last year.

So instead of worrying about what your record ends up being at Super 32 take a different approach. First be sure that you have a clear list of improvements that needed to be made from last year. So for example if you needed to improve your sweep single finishes from states last year and now finished them all or 90% of them at a preseason tournament that’s a major improvement. So how you perform in those specific areas will be a much better measure to see how much you really have improved.

Dylan Cedeno (Bergen Catholic HS / Bitetto Trained WC) knocked off several nationally ranked wrestlers enroute to a 4h place finish at Super 32.

2. Take your pre match game serious! One of the biggest mistakes athletes make is they do not warm up properly and it is usually magnified in national tournaments. Their first match is usually their worst match of the day. Your first match in competition technically should be your 3rd! Warm up until you break a good sweat. Next, look to visualize an entire match approximately 15-20 minutes before your first ‘real’ match. You are much better off visualizing a quick match for 5 minutes with proper breathing instead of pacing back and forth for 15 minutes. Once you get to the tournament focus on your routine:

Kick start your breathing early in the day so it is in rhythm.

  • Change doubts in your head to positive statements (say outloud too).

  • Stay the heck away from negative people that pump up the competition.

  • Commit to accepting the result prior to battle so you can simply focus on competing hard and free of expectations.

  • Move on from previous matches, a win is a win.

3. Go All In! There are 2 important phases of the mental game: Pre Match and during the match. We just gave you some great tips on how to mentally prepare prior to your match with some good warm up tips, so now lets get to tips for match time.

The biggest regret the majority of Super 32 athletes have is they hold back, don’t shoot first, shoot enough or shoot at all. Athletes who are afraid to take a shot are afraid to make a mistake, and if you are going to win matches, pull upsets, and make a deep run at the sport you love you are going to need to score point and have no regrets.

One of the team headsharp athletes who took advantage of this strategy and pulled upsets was Dylan Cedeno (Bergen Catholic / Bitetto Trained NJ) who knocked off several nationally ranked wrestlers en route to his first Super 32 medal in 2018. His attitude going into Super 32 was simple and effective “No matter what the lead I always looked to score at every position, believed in myself like my coaches did and stayed hungry”

In order to score points you are going to have to be aggressive. So the hardest part mentally is that you have to commit to going ‘all ln’ with your best and be okay with the results no matter what.

3. Manage the Nerves. Focus on what you can control, there is no need to spend time over analyzing your bracket. The best athletes do not worry who is in their bracket. They are warming up, not psyching themselves out! A little nerves are okay, so use breathing and warming up to a good sweat to lessen pre match jitters. Simple box breathing will help reset your state of mind, and have you ready to compete in the present.

Here’s how to perform box breathing.

  1. Find a quiet place to sit down and close eyes.

  2. Breathe in through nose for 4 seconds, expanding stomach. 

  3. Hold for 4 seconds

  4. Exhale through mouth for 4 seconds, visualizing the release of all nerves and negative thoughts.

  5. Repeat for 4 minutes.

4. Be ready to fight back. A common mistake we see athletes make is they are rarely prepared for different types of match flows. They have a picture in their mind of how they want the competition to be, and struggle mentally or fall apart once things don’t go their way. Yes it is important to visualize success and dominance, but we must also visualize and prepare for different scenarios that include making adjustments, overcoming adversity and performing in different types of match pace and scoring. You want to be ready for anything, good calls, bad calls, back and forth wars, upsets and epic comebacks. Do not put too much weight on the first points scored or an early lead if it happens.

Final Thoughts: Never obsess over anything including your preparation, everything does not need to be perfect. We want to be efficient and effective as possible, and overthinking and obsessing is not an efficient use of energy. In fact it will drain our energy. However, being positive and having fun is a boost to our energy. It sounds cliche’ but it is true, so be sure to  create excitement.

Remember, the competition will come and go, and you will have areas to work on regardless of the result!

Good Luck at Super 32 and always remember to stay sharp!

For more information on Mental Training be sure to check out the HeadSharp Mental Training App.

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Christopher Noto1 Comment