The darkside of the force is very strong. My eleven year old son was competing in a wrestling match for his wrestling club, and course, I believe my son will be the next Cael Sanderson. Well I can hope but, he does have an affinity for wrestling. He has amassed a very good record over the last six years. He did take off last year from wrestling and is just a little rusty starting off this first competition. He goes out and wins his first match. Im now thinking alright he got back on the horse and he will breeze thru the night. Then he runs into his first hiccup. The second match is going great, he takes the kid down and manhandles him the whole first period. Second period, he comes out tries a takedown gets stuck under his opponent, gets turned, and gets pinned. Im ready for what comes next. Ive coached a lot of young kids wrestling. A loss is usually taken in one of two ways. Either they come off the mat like, oh well, they smile and go on their way. Or they come off the mat just how I expected my son to, like they just lost the Olympic gold medal match. As a competitor and coach I understand this feeling. You only get this in combat sports. There is something that bares you soul to everyone when you lose in one of these sports. There is no team only you on the mat. I expected him to be upset. Here is were I knew the turn was coming. I knew he had to wrestle again tonight. Which means as a coach I knew I had to get him ready to go back on the mat with the possibility of this pain happening again. He came to me in almost tears. “Dad my stomach hurts. I told you it hurt before the match.” He did tell me his stomach was bothering him, but I cut him off. I told him son losses happen, but we have to keep moving on to the next match. No excuses. He did his best that was ok with me. I knew he was scared to get back on the mat again. I knew he was scared after his first match, when he told me his stomach hurt. Ive seen the same thing in full grown fighters Ive coached. He was planting the seed of an excuse. His first match he won, but not the convincing way he was used to. He took a year off but the other wrestlers did not. I saw the doubt creep up in him. Fear is a super powerful motivator and demotivator. He was sitting at edge of the mat getting ready for his last match. I asked did that loss make him angry. He said yes. I could still hear the doubt and fear hanging at the corners of his voice. I told him use that anger, use that fear. I told him go out there put this kid on his back and stick him. I could tell this fired him up. He walked back on to mat with a swagger. The whistle blew, he locked up, threw the kid and pinned him in less than fifteen seconds.
I didn’t even think about what I had done until later that night. I had just assumed the role of Emperor Palpatine talking to a young Anakin Skywalker. I just told my son to use the dark side. To embrace his anger, let it fill him, let it make him strong. Ok that might be a little over the top, but I did try to turn his fear and anger into a tool he could use. Does that mean he would be angry for every match. No probably not. Does this type of motivation help or hurt someone his age. I think motivation has to be unique to the situation and to the person. This might not work the next time, but I will definitely be putting this Jedi trick in my tool box and embrace the darkside again when needed.