Change Your Rhythm - Advice from Cary Kolat

(Cary Kolat is currently the wrestling coach at the U.S. Naval Academy)


Marysville, OHHabits play a significant role in our lives, whether we realize it or not. They can be the building blocks of success or the stumbling stones to failure. In wrestling, the importance of habits cannot be overstated, as they can make or break a career. Cary Kolat, an American wrestling legend, understands this all too well. As a 2-time NCAA champion and a 4-time All-American with a collegiate record of 111-7, Kolat is known for his unwavering determination and work ethic. He was an Olympian at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, the ‘97 World silver medalist in Krasnoyarsk, and the ‘98 bronze medalist in Tehran.

Cary Kolat exhibited a never-give-up attitude in every match. On top of his many accolades, he was also a pioneer in developing and popularizing innovative wrestling techniques. His creativity and willingness to push the boundaries of the sport left a lasting impact on the evolution of wrestling, securing his position as one of the most dominant wrestlers of his era.

Now a renowned wrestling coach at the United States Naval Academy, Kolat knows the importance of breaking harmful habits and challenges his team to abandon the rhythms they have fallen into. It is easy to slip into routines and form habits if you never change your rhythm, like the sustained familiarity of working with the same sparring partner, where the lack of fresh competitiveness yields to predictable, scoring scenarios. Explore the three essential aspects Cary Kolat encourages his team to consider when it comes to programming or deprogramming yourself from potentially detrimental habits.


(Cary Kolat teaches a group of wrestlers)


Habits and Rhythm Make You Get Comfortable

One of the most dangerous aspects of habits and falling into a rhythm is that they make you comfortable. Comfort may seem appealing, but in the sport of wrestling, it can be a roadblock to progress. Kolat related, “When you get too comfortable, you stop being competitive. You stop pushing yourself and your teammates. You must constantly seek new challenges, forcing you to get after it and keep the competitive fire alive.”


Subconscious Nature of Wrestling in Rhythm

Finding a rhythm is often subconscious. You may not even realize you're stuck in a routine that's holding you back. “It’s important to pay attention to your habits and if you're getting into a rhythm while using them.” 

Kolat uses faking as an example of how getting into a rhythm can be detrimental. "If you are only faking with your right hand, you don't even realize it will mess you up. A left-handed collar tie does feel like it's anything major, but most people are right-handed, and if you get too comfortable wrestling right-handed people and then all of a sudden someone starts putting a left collar tie on you, you will realize you're not finding your shots.”

It is important to make active adjustments to simply keep your feet moving, ensuring that you will be able to find your attacks in any given situation.

Cary elaborated, “You have to be able to feel a guy out, determining when you need pressure and when to back off and let your counter-offense come out. This adaptability and the ability to make changes on the fly can make all the difference in your performance.”



 (Cary Kolat Teaches His Clinic)


Maintain the Ability to Switch Gears

“While having habits is generally a good thing, they can become bad when you notice a rhythm and become too comfortable. Maintaining the ability to switch gears, to be random and unpredictable, is key to keeping your opponents on their toes. Don't settle into a routine, and don't let your habits dictate your actions. Instead, pick an opponent and change it up. Be ready to switch things around at any given moment.”

It's crucial to check your habits, particularly those that become too comfortable and turn into routines or a rhythm. Cary Kolat's wisdom from his wrestling career underscores the importance of staying competitive, embracing adaptability, and never becoming too comfortable with your disposition. He adheres to the strategy of breaking free from your comfort zone, better equipping you to face any challenge that comes your way.



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