Grappling and Self-Efficacy

A critical part of our coaching philosophy at HHGC is to promote good mental health in our athletes. If it’s not abundantly clear, we believe that wrestling is a valuable resource in building ‘self-efficacy’ for kids!

New to this term? Albert Bandura developed the idea of self-efficacy as the belief that you can perform a task or manage a situation.

Essentially, it’s about learning how to persevere when things are difficult. A child who sees herself as competent and capable is much more likely to be able to persevere through life’s challenges as they grow and develop.

On the flip side, children with poor self-efficacy often avoid tasks they feel will be challenging and tend to give up quickly.

How can we help build self-efficacy through grappling? We try to create wrestling activities that are challenging enough to keep the child’s interest, but not so difficult that they become frustrating.

Since many of our kid wrestlers are still quite young (average age around 7-8 years old) and are still relatively new to the sport, much of our training is focused on fundamental movement skills (FMS).

After putting in the effort and succeeding at FMS, our young athletes are motivated to try newer, more challenging tasks—maybe more complex takedowns, or how to escape from being pinned by a larger opponent, for instance. For our older kids, this might even mean learning a few submissions.

As you can imagine, the test for coaches—and our biggest sense of reward!—is finding the correct mix of fun and challenge for our young grapplers. One must be completely mindful of the athletes’ attitudes and behaviors and adjust the practice plan in the moment to help foster self-efficacy!

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