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Difference Between Good and Great Wrestlers

consistency grace humility training work ethic wrestling


What makes great wrestlers so good they are considered elite?  I recently asked the wrestling community what are the characteristics of the best wrestlers.

They listed Heart, Pride, Dedication, Sacrifice, Believing, Humility, Work Ethic, Desire, Commitment, Courage, and Mental Toughness.

How to be a Good Wrestler

I have seen a lot of good wrestlers.  Good wrestlers are easy to find.  They consistently win most of their matches, but a good wrestler does not consistently win championships.

Great wrestlers on the other hand, dominate their competition.  Elite wrestlers seem to be in a league of their own.  I would like to look at the qualities of great wrestlers.

Two Great Wrestlers battling on the mat

How to be a good wrestler? Photo Credit: Chris Hunkeler

Outstanding Work Ethic

A great wrestler has a better work ethic than his opponents.  It’s not the wrestling headgear or the kind of shoes they wear.

Great wrestlers are practicing and correcting bad wrestling habits when their opponents are watching television.  They are lifting weights when everyone else is relaxing.  An elite wrestler makes himself better by constantly learning and mastering new moves.

Mental Toughness

If you want to learn how to be a good wrestler, then you must have mental toughness.

A good wrestler wins most of their matches.  The difference between a good wrestler and a great wrestler is that the great wrestlers have mental toughness.

Great wrestlers are the athletes who find a way to win matches when a match isn’t going well.  They never give up and win matches where other wrestlers fail.  The navy seals have a great video on mental toughness. The instructor talks about winning in the mind before entering the arena.


Continuous Training

If you talk to most elite wrestlers, you will discover that almost all of them wrestle during the summer time.  Some will work on chain wrestling at practice and maybe attend a couple of freestyle tournaments and others will have a complete season where they attend multiple tournaments.

Other wrestlers may not attend any tournaments, but may attend a summer wrestling camp.  The common theme here is that every serious wrestler participates in some form of summer wrestling.

Have you ever seen a state champion that didn’t look chiseled?  You  notice that every serious wrestler spends the summer in the weight room.

Great Wrestlers are Consistent

Great wrestlers wrestle the same way from the time the whistle blows to the very end of the match.  They are aggressive and looking to take advantage of any mistake that their opponent makes.  That is why a great wrestler is hard to beat.  They never let up.

Consistency is key for elite wrestlers.  They are consistent in their wrestling diet, training regimen, and continuing to learn and improve.  Champions are continually pushing themselves and learning how to become a better wrestler.

Grace and Humility

I was reminded recently that a great wrestler is still great even when they lose a match.  That took a minute to sink in.

Have you ever witnessed a great wrestler throw a fit?  I doubt it!  You can tell that a great wrestler is disappointed when they lose, but they handle their loss with grace.  They shake their opponents hand and walk off the mat with their head held high. They learn from their mistakes and strive to get better.

They look at what they have accomplished and learn from their mistakes. Cael Sanderson wrote a great article called “Why my kids will wrestle“. I think humility is one of the best traits of great wrestler.


I hope I have inspired wrestlers to move from being good to great. I see so many above average wrestlers, who never move to the next level.  I think it’s a disappointment to see a good wrestler who doesn’t have the mindset of a champion.

If you are a wrestler, coach, parent, fan, etc…, we should all be focused on growing the sport. We should encourage our wrestlers to achieve greatness… to be a great wrestler.

I hope you enjoyed the article.  In my opinion, wrestling is the best sport that anyone can be involved in.  My goal is to promote and grow this wonderful sport.  Thanks for reading and keep working hard!

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