Gable understood that wrestlers win matches, not their coaches. Therefore he planned his practices in a way that was designed give them the opportunity to develop their own style and game plan, as well as incorporate his desired ends. Even though coaches have to correct their athletes, it is crucial that they also develop the athlete’s ability to correct themselves.
Dan Gable: Your practices are going to determine your mental toughness of your athletes. Those practices have to be to the point that each athlete almost becomes a coach in the room, and so he really knows what he should be doing whether you’re there or not, even though you want to be there because you’re going to add something to it that they won’t be able to get out of it, but you want there to be able to get as much as they can, almost as much without you there.
You also need to run practices in a special way where you bring out their game plan, not your game plan, because you’re game plan is not the same as theirs during the match. Maybe in practice, you run the whole show, but they’re going to be by themselves. You could be on the sideline. If they have to keep looking over to you, they’re not going to win.
Number two, they have to actually know how to compete themselves, and that’s where how you win your practices, bringing out the best in your athletes, knowing that they can feel when they can break a partner, and knowing they really turn it on, and they just develop that confidence in something that’s really important. I call it independence, but you don’t do it every day obviously, but you hope that they use a lot of that independence in every one of their workouts. That develops people.