Lessons from the Wrestling Mat – Finish Strong

shute vs swainAs I have mentioned before, I am a wrestling coach.  This weekend, our boys had their first tournament of the local season.  More than half of my wrestlers were brand new to the sport and had never experienced a live match outside of practice.  The rest were seasoned vets with at least 2 years under their belts.  I expected the new boys to be timid, green, and possibly disheartened should they lose quickly.  I expected the veterans to show up ready to go and back into the zone.  What I saw was an absolute surprise.

The new boys not only have been listening well in practice, but they listened well on the mat.  They responded to instructions and fought hard from the first whistle to the last.  I could not have been more proud.  Not a single one of them walked off the mat with his head down, even after a loss.  They shook hands with their opponent, the opposing coach, and then returned to us for a brief review and encouragement.  I was very proud of them for their hard work.  The wins for those boys will come, possibly sooner than later, because their work ethic is strong and they demonstrate a fantastic attitude.

The veteran wrestlers were another story.  I saw two glaring errors, which I expected to see from new wrestlers and not from these guys.  First, I saw them getting out of their move set and trying to engage their opponent in a way they were not equipped to handle.  What followed were losses – painful losses.  For those boys, it was a struggle for me to keep my composure because I had to remind them to wrestle with the stance, leverage, and skills we had taught them for their strengths and body type.  When the boys listened and went back to what they knew, not only were they able to compete, they began to win convincingly.  It was all a matter of remembering who they are and how they had been trained.

Second, I saw a few of the boys get themselves into poor positions and predicaments and then give up.  One wrestler allowed an escape with only one second remaining in the match, sending it into overtime.  He was mad, but instead of channeling his anger into productive offense, he blindly charged and gave up an easy two points to lose the match.  I saw boys watching the clock, a big no no in my book.  I saw them get stuck and give up.  Again, this is something I can expect from someone who is scared and has never experienced a full match, but not from boys who had wrestled for 2 or 3 years.  Suffice it to say I was beside myself.  The wins from the first group made me feel better – a little.

Aside from allowing me to vent, this tournament reminded me of two important lessons that I think we can apply to our lives.

1.) Stick to What You Know

Wrestlers get in trouble when they try to wrestle according to their opponent rather than according to their training.  What ends up happening is that they are essentially waiting on the opponent to strike and from a poor position to boot.  Catholic guys, we get into the same predicament when we try to adopt the ways of this planet when it comes to handling our daily struggles.  Turning to these tactics rather than the spiritual disciplines provided to us by God will leave us wanting, and it will put us in a position to be more easily picked off by the enemy.  We must be vigilant to remember we are sons of God and act accordingly.  As our coach, Jesus Christ knows all too well the strategies of the Devil and He alone is the one we need to listen to.  Wrestle OUR match with the tools WE have.  That’s the key to victory.  Otherwise, prepare for disappointment.

2.) Finish Strong

We have a tendency to look for minimums.  What is the least I can do to get by?  Bad idea, guys.  When we watch the clock, when we give up, when we stop being vigilant, we get in trouble.  More often than not, the losses will start to pile up.  We might even consider giving up totally.  This, of course, would please Satan to no end.  However, we are told over and over again in the Sacred Scriptures that we must finish strong, endure to the end, run the race, finish the course, persevere.  In other words FIGHT UNTIL THE FINAL WHISTLE.  Don’t stop, even when you get in a tight spot or find yourself thrown to your back.  Keep moving and get up!  Take the fight to the enemy!  Guys, doing the minimum will not cut it.  We have to step up our efforts to train and fight.

Ladies, I understand that some of you may have read all the way through this article saying, “What in the world is this guy talking about?”  God bless you for your perseverance.  The same principles apply to you as they do the fellows.  If you are in a marriage, the rules doubly apply because the temptations and challenges seem to multiply once you join two lives together.  Husbands, pray for your wives, and wives pray for your husbands.  We need each other to make it through this life.  Remember that Satan is constantly attacking the family because it is the living image of the total self-giving communion that reflects the nature of God.  Don’t let him win.  Listen to the Coach.

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About Tactical Catholic

Catholic husband, dad, and convert to the Catholic Faith. A Catholic layman doing his part to strengthen Catholic men for their vocation.

Posted on November 10, 2014, in Catholic Family, Catholic Manliness, Marriage, Spiritual Warfare and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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