Craig Smith uses professional wrestling to motivate his players

Motivation in sports can come from anywhere, even from sports entertainment. In a recent podcast called Turnbuckle Trash, Utah State University men’s basketball coach Craig Smith was a guest and talked about his love of professional wrestling and Aggie basketball.

Coach Smith loves the term GATA.

“It’s an acronym, G.A.T.A., and it stands for ‘Get After Their (Butts)’, but it’s a different word,” Smith explained.

It is a hard nose aggressive way to play the game, even in practice, to encourage his players.

“During practices and games, tips and deflections, taking charges, diving on the floor, steals, even if you attempt to take a charge, all of these tough-guy plays we believe really add up to winning,” Smith added.

Coach Smith and his staff even award a weekly GATA belt. Smith said the belt idea comes from his love of old school professional wrestling.

“I grew up loving wrestling. There’s a lot of energy in a wrestling arena, there’s so much pomp and circumstance. You knew the champions when they were walking in with that huge belt.”

Smith added that when the Aggies are on the road that tough guy mentality is really needed.

“We need to have that Road Warrior mentality. The Road Warriors and Hulk Hoggan were my favorite, depending on if you want a single wrestler or a tag team, I always loved how they came flying into that gym, they’d have those football pads on and the studs coming out.

It was just a mentality. Our guys bought into that and we had tremendous success on the road.”

Coach Smith said that the year before he came to Logan the Aggies road record was not that good, but the players have bought into the GATA approach and last season had one of the best records on the road in the country.

The Turnbuckle Trash podcast even asked non-wrestling questions to Smith asking him how the pandemic was affecting getting ready for the upcoming season.

“There are so many things we can’t do. We can’t go on the road and recruit. We can’t go and get face time. We can’t go meet a prospect’s mom and dad, sit down in their living room right now. We can’t be on the road to evaluate. Normally, there would be AAU tournaments going on.”

In the upcoming basketball season, when you see a hard nose hustle play, you might want to become a Road Warrior yourself.

You can hear the entire interview at the beginning of the Turnbuckle Trash podcast on the KOOL1039.com website.

Other highlights of the podcast are an interview with wrestler Porter Blake (who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and a special guest, Dave’s wife Teresa, who talks about Oranges and Pineapples.

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