Training Tips - Get your head in the match - March 2007

You train, and train and train. However, come a big tournament you suck up a storm and get your butt kicked. How can that be? Are the ones that beat you that much better or are they training that much harder. Sometimes the problem doesn’t lie within the muscles and tendons of your arm but within the cranium. When competing at the top levels of this sport many times a person’s losses have as much to do with mental preparedness as it does with arm power. Getting your head into the game is not always an easy thing to do. Everybody has their own way to prepare for their match. Some like to sit quietly and meditate while others like to fire themselves up. What works best for you is something that you will have to discover for yourself.

The main thing you need to remember is that you must be able to think and react to any changes that your opponent is making. If you are firing yourself up to where you are not thinking clearly then you need to rethink your strategy. Arm Wrestling like any sport requires clear thinking, planning and execution of specific moves. Having your head clouded by hollering or banging on the table may fire up your adrenaline, but if the extra strength you think that you are creating is not directed in the right manner then all is for not.

In the next couple paragraphs I’ll be singling out certain individuals. I mean no disrespect toward them as I have the greatest respect for them and have used them in past training tips to detail what to do to become a better arm wrestler. However we all have bad tournaments or make bad judgments during matches, which is why we lose.

This does not pertain just to the ones that are trying to fire themselves up but also to the ones that are getting frustrated by your opponent. A clear example of this was at Nationals when Greg Harnish was pulling Kade Revelstoke. Greg’s frustration at Kade not wanting to grip up caused him to lose his cool. When you lose your cool all of a sudden your judgment gets impaired and the game plan that you originally had goes out the window. You are flying by the seat of your pants. You are in reaction mode instead of action mode. It’s tough to win when you are reacting to another person’s moves instead of making the moves yourself and making them react.

Also clear thinking is required during the match. If you watch Mark MacPhail’s match with Anatoly Skodtaev you will notice a contrast in styles. Both guys were equally strong which is why the match lasted as long as it did. However the difference was in the way they pulled. Anatoly was patient while Matt panicked a bit. As Mark was trying to smash his way through, Anatoly took his time making little moves, gaining more control every time that Mark made a hit. Eventually Anatoly had control of Mark’s hand and wrist.

The third thing that you need to be aware of is overconfidence. You go in thinking “this guy(or girl) has never beaten me so they’re not beating me this time”. Then they hit the “Go” and you’re struggling to come back from the losing position if you stop them at all. In the finals of the 110kg class Shawn was on the “A” side heading into the finals. Kade had to come back and beat him twice. Shawn had already beaten him and only needed one more victory. No problem, right? Wrong, Kade did come back and won it all. This is an especially tough situation sitting on the “A” side and losing your first match in the finals. Now you have to ask yourself “Did I just mess up or did he change something which is why I lost. If you don’t figure this out before your next match you may be taking home second. Never under-estimate your opponent.

Next time you line up against an opponent are you thinking about what you are going to do, what they are going to do or are you just up there to grip and rip? If it’s the last one then you should rethink your game plan. Good luck and good pulling.

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