You might have the physical strength of an ox, but if your mental strength is lacking then your fight is going to be lacking. Boxing is as much a game of the mind as it is of the body. Mental toughness in boxing is a trait that comes around when you train your brain like a muscle. The psychological effects of boxing can only be withstood when you’ve developed the mental stamina that is asked of a boxer. How do you get there? Starpro Combat’s guide to mentally prepare for a fight breaks it down. Here’s the mental warmup you need:
Taking time to mentally focus and detach yourself from your physical surroundings offers enormous benefits when it comes to avoiding mental fatigue. Switch off from technology and bring down your stress levels through meditation. These can be as simple as breathing exercises, which supply your brain with the levels of oxygen it needs to function at its best. This also trains you for the ring: knowing how to singularly focus on one point and block out distractions is a keen skill that can transform your performance in the ring.
You know what you want out of your time in the ring, so visualize it. This can be done as part of meditation. Run through which moves you want to employ; think of yourself performing them, and most importantly, picture yourself winning. Picking an entrance song that you believe in and that pumps you for the ring is an important part of visualization: choose your music well and make sure to play it while you’re doing your mental prep. This helps with association, and brings it all back when you’re walking out there. Checking out the arena in which your match will take place well ahead of time helps with visualization, and is useful in planning and manifesting what you want in greater detail.
An actual physical warmup goes hand in hand with mental preparation: if your muscles are relaxed and ready to go, so is your mind. Get into the zone by using a foam roller to release built-up tension and condition your muscles for a match. Multi-directional dynamic stretching will also help to loosen joints and limbs. Walking lunges across the room will have you ready for that fighting footwork. Keep upping your pace as you move through your warmup until you’re at full capacity right before your match. Keeping an eye on your nutrition by having an electrolyte-loaded drink during this time is also recommended to keep your mind and muscles working.
A good practice to get into a couple of weeks before your match is to look at older recordings of your previous matches. Use this time to analyse them: know where you stumble, your weak points, and your strengths. This way, you’ll have a handle on where you want to improve, as well as the time to build up to peak performance. Use a discerning eye and pretend you are your own coach: this will help you to get to know yourself better. Knowing oneself is a strength: it’s the greatest mental tool a fighter can have. When you know what your strengths are, you can use those to your advantage without letting your opponent know your vulnerabilities.
Don’t stop at analyzing yourself: take a close look at your opponent as well. Watching your opponent’s older matches to get a grip on their go-to moves means’s you’ll know what they’re doing before they do it. This kind of opponent-specific prep will also make you more aware of their weaknesses. Once you know where they’ll fumble, you can use it to your advantage and force them into a corner. This technique was famously used by Francois Botha against Mike Tyson, so you know it’s one that the practice of the great. Use it to build up your own confidence and surety in the ring.
Whatever you practice before a fight, whether positive affirmations, opponent-specific preparation, or a combination of all of the above, it should contribute to your own peace of mind and belief in yourself. Once you step into a fight believing in your own abilities, it’ll do wonders. Win the match mentally beforehand, so that then you can focus on winning it in the ring.