Boxing and Sports Psychology
What does it take to be a great boxer? What can fighters do to get mentally tougher? And what kind of mental training is helpful for fighters?
In the past, I have counseled a number of boxers, martial artists and mixed martial artists. When I work with these athletes, I usually also work closely with their trainers and their managers. This is essential, since these people are a vital part of the boxer’s team. Everyone in the athlete’s camp must be on the same page when the bell for the first round sounds.
For some reason, I have been contacted by a number of fighter recently. Several of these boxers are competing in The Golden Gloves Tournament in New York City.
Key issues for fighters include learning how to stay relaxed before the fight and once the fight begins. Some boxers are overly nervous or overly anxious before a bout begins.
Fighters also need to learn how to remain confident, calm and focused during the course of the fight. Teaching fighters confidence building affirmations can also help them to enter the ring with a positive attitude and a fighting spirit. I encouraged one fighter to think of himself as a ferocious tiger before he entered the ring. This image helped him to find stay calm and to find the kind of aggressiveness he needed to fight well.
Fighters also need to know what their strengths and weaknesses are so they can continue to get mentally and physically better as they train. Good boxers continue to sharpen their skills and work on their techniques throughout their careers.
Boxers are also encouraged to study film of their opponents so they can develop a fight plan for their upcoming fights. This kind of plan helps the fighter to focus more effectively during the course of the bout.
Fighters also need to flexible enough to change strategy and tactics if things are not going well as they would have hoped as the fight unfolds. Many fighters fail because they have only one approach or one style to fighting. A versatile fighter is apt to be more successful against a wide array of opponents than is a one dimensional fighter.
Boxers need to be able to find the right level aggressiveness and the right energy level for their craft. I teach boxers to fight in mental state which can best be described as a state of relaxed aggression.
Boxers also need to develop mental and physical resiliency so they can weather the physical
punishment which is part of boxing. Learning how to recover physically an psychologically from a heavy punch or from a combination of punches that land are essential skills for a fighter who competes at a high level.
Many boxers who I have coached seem to benefit from mastering self-hypnosis, meditation, visualization and guided imagery.