Mental Mondays with Ben Askren: Wrestling Is More Than Toughness

The Importance of Self-Confidence

This week on Mental Mondays, Ben Askren talks about toughness in wrestling and in life. Askren has avoided this topic in the past to avoid sounding like he is bragging because that is not his intention. Last week at UFC 235 Askren showcased his world-class toughness against Robbie Lawler. This is a trait he never had to really show to that extreme in MMA and an attribute he hopes he doesn’t have to rely on in the future. That being said, the toughness is what has given Askren the calmness and confidence stepping onto the mat or into the cage his entire career.

A False Prophet (1:44)

Getting into the reasons why he hasn’t brought up toughness during Mental Mondays, Askren explains many wrestlers think toughness is the number one attribute to obtain. Askren warns to not fall into this mindset. At the college level, being tough is a prerequisite. Everyone is tough, so when you hold it up as what separates you from the rest, you’re misguided.

Why Toughness Is Important Today (3:04)

Askren believes wrestling is more important now than it’s ever been in America. He believes this is because toughness is at a premium. Most people if given a choice would choose to be tough over the opposite. In today’s day and age, people are not faced to deal with physical toughness. For example, we no longer have to brace the same tough challenges like our ancestors 100 years ago. This is why people gravitate towards activities such as CrossFit or Jiu-Jitsu. They force you to go deep inside your mind and push yourself to your limits. When you overcome the mental toughness an extreme sport promotes, other life problems become easier to deal with.

Intelligently Building (7:25)

The biggest mistake Askren sees from youth and high school coaches is that they emphasize toughness too much. You have to ease kids into the toughness aspect of the sport. If someone entering wrestling goes from zero experience to all of the fundamentals of wrestling thrown at them all at once, the individual will most likely quit. If you slowly introduce moves and build a wrestler up with training, they’re less likely to quit on day one. Through time they’ll learn to master their self-doubts and fears and perform to their best abilities without giving up. Askren speaks about the importance of building this empowerment. Instead of negatively coaching by saying, “Don’t quit you’re being a wimp,” encourage wrestlers by telling them, “I support you, you can do this.”

Where to find Mental Mondays with Ben Askren:

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