Over the years, I have seen many wrestling t-shirts bearing questionable to ludicrous expressions. Like, “Men Wrestle, Boys play Basketball”. That one is goofy, and probably a bit offensive to basketball players. Then there is “Pain is weakness leaving the body” — absurd, because I have never had anyone say to me, Thanks for the pain, Jim. I am less weak now that you just donkey stomped me.
Another that I’ve encountered is “Attitude is everything”, which is partially true at best and sacrilege at worst.
I have been around athletes with great attitudes but who were terrible wrestlers, and I’ve been around athletes with terrible attitudes but were amazing wrestlers. Attitude is important — but it is hardly everything. It is something, not everything. Attitude is a tool that can make hard things easier. Not easy, but easier.
The flip side to that coin is how a poor attitude will make things harder. A poor attitude may even make easy things hard to do. I heard Dan Gable say once that there are times when people put more effort into getting out of a task than the task would have demanded.
Difficult situations reveal attitude. There will be tough training sessions. There should be tough training sessions. The attitude at the outset will, to varying degrees, determine performance and, at times, the outcome. When a coach announces the training for the day, what is the response? Inward, or worse yet, outward groans? Is the response I don’t want to do this today, or I can’t wait for this day to be over! Or is the attitude one that results in a look of determination which screams Is that all you’ve got, coach? I am going to own this workout! In fact, the best way to respond is simply to take the training away from the coach.
Walking into practice with a sense of dread will de-energize the athlete, thereby causing a decreased ability to perform. Eagerly anticipating a workout will energize the athlete, thus giving way to an improved ability to perform. The same can be said for competition. Entering a competition with fear will drain an athlete of his vigor, whereas looking forward to battle serves as an appropriate primer. Fear and security become factors whenever the athlete is focused on the outcome or an opponent’s credentials, rather than on the opportunity God has given them to grow and sharpen their skills and character.
What is even more troubling? The affect and effect a bad attitude has on those around you. Not only is a bad attitude self-destructive, it is also destructive to others, such as teammates, co-workers, classmates, and fellow believers.
Attitude is not everything, but it is something, and there are times during training and competition when the only control an athlete has is over their attitude. As Christians, we are commanded to “Do everything without complaining or arguing” (Philippians 2:14) — and that “In everything give thanks, for this is what God wants from you who are united with the Messiah Yeshua” (I Thessalonians 5:18).
Our example is Christ. Is your attitude Christlike?
If you would like to follow up with Coach Gruenwald regarding faith development, or if you are someone who is searching, or just someone who is looking for help navigating life, he can be reached directly via email.
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