In this section we will discuss how sport psychology plays a crucial role in boxing, both in the gym work and during actual bouts. As a boxer, you have to learn how to use psychology to your advantage. Improvement during training is reckoned to be 90% physical and 10% mental, but once you climb through those ropes and enter the ring to face an opponent, those percentages reverse and the chances of victory becomes 90% mental and 10% physical. So never neglect the importance of sports psychology, it is very important that you spend time preparing yourself psychologically and develop a winning mentality in boxing.
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Think Like A Champion And You Can Become A Champion
A psychologically strong mind can give you a vital edge in boxing, especially during the more difficult times. The mind is a very powerful tool that the majority of people never learn to control properly, but the use of sports psychology helps you to do exactly that. For example, all boxer's understand the importance of doing those road runs, taking care of their diet and training hard in the gym. So why are some fighters always in great shape, while others arent? Why do some boxers find it a struggle to make their fighting weight for many of their bouts, while others manage it with ease? The answer usually lies within their mental discipline. It's easy to skip your roadwork or cheat a bit on your diet, but total dedication is required if you want to have any success in boxing.
A day in the life of a boxer consists of hard work. While most people are still sound asleep in their beds, dedicated boxer's are out running the streets. That early morning road work often involves distance running, hill running, sprints and very demanding interval runs. So those sessions are far from fun, but a psychologically prepared boxer who strives to be successful, commits himself to doing them as he understands their importance. Of course there will be days when you are tired, maybe the rain is battering down outside or there's an icy gale blowing in the winter? Your trainer isn't there to urge you on, so the decision is purely down to you and you alone. It's taking to easy option to reach for the 'off' button on your alarm and drift back to the dream that was interrupted by that annoying sound. So which option would you choose?
What makes one boxer decide to get out and do those runs, while another boxer may choose to go back to sleep? That choice must come from deep inside your mind.
The boxer who wakens to run and train, does it to edge himself one step closer to reaching his goal. He may be preparing for a wee regional amateur tournament, perhaps the nationals or even a professional world title. At some point, you must decide on your own how badly you want to be a winner. There will always be boxers who sleep, and others who waken to road run. There will always be those who mess around at the gym, and those who are willing to train as hard as they can until the lights go out.
You will have many days when you would rather not go training at all, so you need a determined mind to overcome those feelings.
Working on your psychology gives you the mental strength that's needed to be succssful in boxing. No one can make those decisions for you, your trainer can urge you on but the final decision is all down to you and you alone. The best boxing trainers in the world are only as good as the boxer's they train. They can offer advice and provide motivation, but the ultimate choice still rests in the hands (or head) of the boxer himself.
If you decide in your heart that you want to succeed, your mind will start to take over. You begin to make boxing your main purpose in life, as you have to eat, sleep and dream boxing if you want to be the best. If you won't or can't do that, rest assured that another fighter will and he will be the one who goes on to achieve the most success.
Boxing isn't a sport that ou 'play', it is a sport where you can get seriously hurt. Boxing is a sport for warriors who are strong both mentally and physically. Everyone face fears and doubts, but with dedicated training and experience, allied with psychology, we learn to quell those negative feelings and concentrate on the more positive ones.
The wait in the changing room before a bout can be enough to psychologically break the average person. Most people have never been involved in a proper one-on-one fight. For this reason, they can't even begin to understand the psychology of sitting and waiting to do battle with another boxer in the ring, whose sole purpose is to finish you off as quickly as possible, unless you have done it. Your opponent has sweat and bled in the gym, and worked hard on the roads for one reason only, to hand you a defeat. He wants to make you pay for all that hard work he's done and that's a challenge that you must face alone. Your trainer, friends and family can only watch from outside the ring, everything else is down to you.
Your mind can also play tricks on you, it may try to convince you to doubt yourself and your training. For this reason you must 'train your mind' to work for you, not against you. The only way to achieve that state of mind is through dedication, experience and hard work, and the experience part only comes from actual competition. You must box and always continue to learn. If you lose a fight, which we all do at times, you must make the psychological decision to pick yourself back up off the floor, learn from all the mistakes you made, mentally prepare yourself to fight again and make damn sure that you win next time.
Boxing is just like any other sport in that it takes time and effort to learn and master the techniques. You must learn from your losses and carry on to fight another day. No one can instill the psychological toughness and work ethic required to become a champion for you, you must dig down deep within yourself and find these qualities all on your own, or with the assistance and advice of a sports psychologist. Always train hard and believe in yourself. Through hard work you will gain confidence in your training and your boxing abilities. Boxing is a sport that does not often often involve luck, it is a sport that rewards those who work hard and are dedicated.
Boxers also consider their sport to be a type of physical chess – A sport that is as much a battle of psychology and tactics, as it is physical punching power.
In a sport where there can only be one winner, seeing an opponent struggling physically or mentally in the boxing ring provides you with a huge source of extra motivation, as boxers look to exploit every weakness or frailty they can see in their opponents armour.
Most people already accept the notion that boxers need to be mentally tough to compete in the sport. While few boxers use sport psychologists, most recognise the importance of psychology in relation to performance. Just watch the two boxers at any weigh in or press conference for an upcoming fight, they are not sitting smiling to each other and chatting about the weather, they are constantly trying to 'psych out' the other guy and looking to gain even the slightest psychological edge.
In fact it's reckoned that 90% of fights are won or lost psychologically, that's how important it is.
Try to imagine how it feels to be standing in the ring before a fight. Would you feel scared, nervous, angry, confident, over confident? Ideally, you would be in complete control of your emotions and able to get into the psychological state which you believe best helps your performance.
Psychology Of Boxing
Successful boxers demonstrate nothing but positive mental thoughts before fights.
A question often asked is whether a boxer intends to injure his or her opponent? The answer is that boxers (like all competitors) are there to win, and in boxing, injuring your opponent is often a necessary part of winning. You therefore have to be psychologically prepared to inflict injury, and show no mercy in doing so – That's a psychological mindset that is subtly different to intending to injure, however it is important to recognise what seems a bit of a contradiction. When a fighter sees that their opponent is hurt, this is seen as a sign of 'goal attainment', since your aim is to win the bout, this may well involve inflicting further damage. Contrast that with football (soccer if you prefer that term) for example, where if a player is hurt the unwritten rule is to stop play and let him be treated. In boxing though, seeing an opponent wince after receiving a body punch acts in a motivating way and boxers who allow their opponent time to recover are not likely to be very successful. You must capitalise on the slightest sign of weaknesses in your opponents, and any psychological sign of their weakness is an indicator that victory is possible for you. So boxers learn to disguise when they feel hurt or tired, outwardly trying be calm and confident when in reality they are physically struggling. Not everyone is psychologically able to do that successfully. The boxer places all duty of care and the welfare of his opponent, on the referee.
Referees usually complete their pre-match brief by telling you to "Protect Yourself At All Times"
Those aren't empty words
Think about this paragraph for a moment - Improving as a boxer in training is maybe 90% physical and 10% mental. Meaning that you have to work hard to make it happen. However, once you step into that ring the percentages can often reverse and success becomes 90% mental and 10% physical. You already have the conditioning, boxing technique and fight strategy, now you have to make sure that you stay calm under pressure and keep yourself psychologically focused on the right things.
For example, your concentration needs to stay in the moment, on executing this punch and this punch only. If you let your mind jump ahead to the future, (thinking about winning or losing) or slip back to the past (a previous mistake or bout), you will end up getting yourself too uptight and distracted to perform to your full potential in the ring. This means that you have to be able to mentally rebound quickly from your mistakes and not carry them into the next round or bout
Using Adrenaline To Your Advantage
In a fight situation, whether it is inside the boxing ring or out of it, your body will produce enough adrenaline to instantly heighten all of your senses, speed up your heart, and bring about a state of mind that can remove all other thoughts from your head. That kind of adrenaline rush can bring you to a state that's close to panic as everything suddenly kicks into overdrive. So the best fighters learn to remain calm and determined, even when the adrenaline is flowing, and use the heightened state that adrenaline brings for their benefit instead. Losing your calmness and exploding into a frenzy of swinging fists and awkward movements isn't something you want to do in the boxing ring. Instead, you have to learn to contain it and let it out a bit at a time, when you determine that it's the right time and not before. The most psychologically strong boxers remain calm and determined throughout the entire fight, as they have worked on a game plan and they stick to it, no matter what. When you have a fight plan and can mentally control the emotions that can well up inside you, especially when the adrenaline is pumping, you can bring extra speed and power to your efforts.
Do not let yourself get caught up in the moment. Try to always remain calm and determined.
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