Developing an Understanding

Ben Askren is inspired this Monday by a passage from a book he’s currently reading. Ben quotes the book, “People will respect certainty more than truth. They’ll respect you for being wrong but they won’t forgive you for being nuanced and uncertain.” Askren relates this to wrestling and coaching. As a coach, you can break down and explain techniques but at the end of the day, the wrestler has to get a feel for it. It’s not just about having the information but it’s about being able to apply it. When you have an opponent trying to stop you from using your technique and simultaneously trying to impose their own, it’s completely different. Real-time, competition wrestling is not something that you could drill in the practice room and master. It comes with real-time choices made on the mat.

People Want the Exact Answer

Sometimes athletes get frustrated because there isn’t an exact answer in the complexity of wrestling. Askren finds it helpful to instruct youth wrestlers with exact moves. The reality is there is too much information to teach them all at once. By the time wrestlers are in high school, Askren teaches them the possible wrestling moves they can use in their arsenal when on the mat. It is up to the wrestler to figure out which move will work best for them given their current situation. Growing up, Askren never liked a coach that said, “Do this because I’m the coach.” He always needed to know why. This is what drove Askren to become an elite level scrambler. He explored all the different options and figured it out for himself. This is why, with the older kids Askren coaches, he feels it’s important to leave some uncertainty so they can take it upon themselves to learn.

Wrestling is a Complex Sport

Handling incomplete or unorganized information can be frustrating. According to the book, people want certainty more than the truth. Askren tells us that unfortunately, wrestling isn’t black and white. There are no certain answers and the truth is there are many possibilities and multiple solutions. Do you agree with Askren? What is better in terms of coaching, certainty or truth?

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