Archive for category Psychological

Why the F*ck do We Box!?

Why do I box?  I struggled with this one for years, mostly because I wanted to put it to myself in a way that would sound cool to everyone else.  I wanted a bullshit marketing spin that I could buy into and sell to the entire world.  I ran from the truth because I wanted to believe that boxing was for everyone, that everyone could benefit from this beast of an activity.  It took me a long time to get real with myself, and the truth hit me one day when I read something out of the Autobiography of Malcolm X.  My favourite book of all time, btw.

In that book, Malcolm X takes a visit to Mecca, during that visit he meets a man who spits some logic on him that blows his mind, it goes like this, “You have never truly believed [in something], until you want it for your brother as much as you want it for yourself.” Bamn! there it is….let it sink in.

Honestly, I don’t want boxing for everybody, I don’t want it for my mother, my friends, the kid who plays piano 3 hours a day, and I certainly don’t want it for the MBA student who does everything his parents ever told him to.  In fact, I don’t care who boxes and who doesn’t, and that’s because there are deeper issues at stake.  Namely, fear and self-worth, this is what’s at stake, this is what I care about and so should you.

What is boxing?  It is a medium for expressing yourself, it’s a tool and a set of techniques for relating to another human being, and that’s some classic Bruce Lee philosophy.  It’s one medium among many to overcome fear, to gain confidence, to prove what you are capable of, and to establish your self-worth.   Boxing is a sport, it’s also a form of combat, and in it lies the basic components of conflict that anyone trying to excel at something faces: 1) mastery over yourself, 2) mastery over your environment, 3) mastery over others.

This is what the CEO is doing, it’s what the b-boy is doing, it’s what the gold-digger is doing, it’s what the painter is doing, and it’s what you are doing everytime you step in the ring.  In boxing there are no liars, the truth finds you quickly, it’s a high risk and high reward program for discovering what kind of man you really are.  High reward because once you have put in the work, put in the time, gained the skills and conditioned your body to the best it can be, you know that you can walk down the street everyday for a week and not pass anybody who can do what you do.  Boxing is also high risk, you face your fear when you fight, and at the same time there is still a lot of fear, it’s not fear of pain, but fear of losing what you’ve gained, fear of losing your confidence and your status.  Fear of being the nobody you were before you boxed.  That’s why you better learn to love yourself somewhere along the way, because this boxing shit ain’t gonna last forever.

The boxer always has a tough dilemma, we are always one punch away from being knocked down, and I mean way down, if you don’t believe me just go ask Ricky Hatton.  The boxer who takes calculated risks deserves props because we all have our time when that punch turns our fate.  Props to Ricky Hatton, no matter what anyone has to say.  Mike Tyson took his fate turning punches from Douglas, Holyfield and Lewis.  Roy Jones took his from Tarver.  Roberto Duran took his from Hearns, and Hearns took his from Barkley and Hagler.  As fighters, active or not, we deserve recognition from ourselves for the risks taken to face our fears, to prove our self-worth, and to gain mastery.

So why do I box?  Because the pain and discontent inside me wouldn’t have had it any other way.

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Breathing in Boxing

Your body’s ability to process and utilize oxygen effectively is essential to good boxing, even though research has shown boxing to be about 70% anaerobic.  This means that boxing simulates short sprints, explosive movements, and dextrous agility that requires big energy on demand and needs less oxygen a more aerobic activity.

The optimal training formula for for boxing is not locked in however, old school long distance roadwork is still a staple of many coaches and boxer’s regimen.  Most good boxers and coaches have figured out one thing though, and that is that training has to simulate the intensity of the actual event, anything less than training for what a fight feels like will leave you performing suboptimally.  There is a slight distinction between breathing, oxygen usage, and boxing efficiency, yet they are all related.  Below, one of my Youtube subscribers brings this issue to my attention, and I’ll attempt to answer it based on a holistic view of performance training for boxing.

I really enjoy your vids! Its helping me alot in every aspect. I was wondering about breathing in sparring. The funny thing is when i hit the bags, heavybag, double end bag, body snatcher bag. i dont have a problem. But when i spar i have a problem. I guess im holding my breath. Can you please give me some pointers? Any help would be greatly apprecated.

First off, the proper breathing technique for boxing allows you to expel air almost completely when you throw your punches so the body’s natural instinct to take air back in goes into effect.  This way you have a steady supply of new oxygen coming in.  To do this you have to exert your exhalation from the lowest part of your abdomen.  If you exhale and only exert exhalation pressure from your upper diaphram or chest then you are going to get tense and tired real quick.

The best way I’ve found to do this is to make a loud “hmph” or “hugh” sound on each punch while keeping your mouth closed and breathing out through your nose.  When the air goes out strong your body will call it back.  It’s ideal to breath back in through your nose, I’ve had a deviated sceptum for years so breathing back in through my nose has always been tough, but it’s ideal.  The specific noise you make when you exhale doesn’t matter, a lot of top boxers make a “SSS” sound when they punch, some like Ricky Hatton, make a loud “Hagh”.  The key is that the air has to come from the lowest part of your abdomen, this also makes your body a bit tougher and more durable against counters to the body.

One way to test this and get a feel is to put your fingertips right below your navel and let out a forceful “Hmph”, do three or four fast ones in a row just like when you throw a combo, you should feel the exertive outward pressure of your abdomen.  Now try this, put your fingertips on your upper abdomen and exhale forcefully without letting your lower abdomen exert pressure, you’ll notice that you feel tight and still have a lot of air left in your lungs to expel.  In the heat of real boxing, this is how a lot of people tend to breath, it takes training, experience and conditioning to get this properly calibrated.

There is a bigger problem for my prospective boxer above though, and poor breathing may be the sympton, but it’s not the cause.  One thing I stress in training is to simulate the fight feel and conditions as much as possible.  A lot of fighters either forget, are unaware, or lack drive to get in the proper shape for a fight.  Hitting the bag is the equivalent of a jog, and fighting is the equivalent of a sprint.  Sparring and fighting is high intensity for the simple reason that the opponent moves, and appliess pressure through offense and his ability to dodge your attacks.  It takes a lot of steam to launch an attack and to retreat to safety, with a bag it only takes about half the effort.  Let me put it to you in measurable terms:  If you are going to have a 100 punch output during a round of sparring, you need to be ready for a 300 punch round on the bag.  This is about the equivalent I have found, it may be a little less depending on your footwork and head movement, but you get the idea.

One thing I stress to fighters is to hit the bag at fight pace.  Fight pace is rapid, it’s dynamic, it incorporates head movement, in and outs, lateral motion, in fighting, and fast fast fast combos!  My recommendation is to have at least 2 workouts a week where you go 4 rounds at fight pace.  This means you warm up for 3 rounds.  And then when round 4 hits, its a mad fury and all out tactical brawl with the bag.

How will you know if you are doing it right?  By the end of the third round at fight pace you will be begging for the bell to ring.  Another way you’ll know is when everyone in the gym is staring at you wondering if they need to exorcise the demon within.

You need to simulate the feel of a real fight in training.  Another trick I used to do is when the bell would go for the round, I would bust out 20 straight burpees before stepping to the bag. I would do this for each round. Under these conditions you will learn to fight tired and under fatigue.  You don’t want to train this way all the time, I recommend twice a week.  Remember in training to simulate the feel of your toughest rounds in the ring!

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Y’all Must’ve Forgot!

You’ve been training for months, years, maybe a decade, and you’ve picked up a ton of knowledge along the way.  As you go it’s easy to forget the little things you used to do and the optimal mindset, especially if you’ve taken some time off or got stuck in a rut.  It’s not until you get clocked, land a sweet shot or suffer from absolute boredom in the gym that you remember some of the things that made you a better boxer along the way.

Do ya remember the way you used to skip furiously for the last 30 seconds of every round

…remember the way you used to jab to the opponents glove or shoulder before stepping in with a second jab

…remember the way you used to slip to the right and lean slightly back when you threw that big uppercut

…remember the way you used to duck out and step to the right after landing that right hand to the body

…remember the way you used to get up in the morning with a calm and serious mindset, focused on training

…remember the way you used to hit the bag at high intensity pace, like it was your opponent

…remember the way you used to keep your chin tight into your chest

…remember the way you used to launch an attack on your opponent, and then launch a second immediate attack.

…remember the way you used to roll off of every left hook you threw

…remember how you used to love doing ab work

…remember the way you used to work with your stable mates and leave your ego to the wayside

…remember when you used to do sprints and intervals as part of your roadwork

…remember how clean your diet used to be

…remember when your woman used to ask you what you were pensively thinking about, and all you could say was ‘boxing’

…remember how much you used to welcome and face the pain of training

…remember how you used to slip, duck and move after every combo

…remember how you used to spend two rounds just working on the jab

…remember when 3 rounds on the bag was just a warm-up

…remember telling yourself that you were NOT gonna lose this fight

…remember the thrill of surviving a fight with your best performance win, lose, or draw

…remember  when the speed bag was fun and just icing on the cake in your workout

…remember when the music you listened to and boxing were synonymous

…remember when you would rip combos like a machine gun

…remember when you didn’t care how big or small your sparring partner was

…remember not being able to go another round and doing it anyway

…remember the way you used to attack to the head, then body, then back up to the head

…remember how loose and fast your left hook used to be

…remember how you used to spend 15-20 minutes just working on footwork

…remember when you could train and hang out in the gym for hours

Do ya remember how much you love boxing!?

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Pro-style as an Amateur

When I first started boxing I had a textbook amateur stance and style; hands high, left hand about six inches away from the chin, fairly upright stance and active defense with a focus on ‘cover and counter’ type rhythm.  It wasn’t long before my coach pulled me aside and said that this was not going to work.  He had me pull my hands to my chin, square up just a bit and start working on my head movement with immediate counters and punching while the opponent was punching.  Did he know that I loved Mike Tyson!?  Who knows, I’m sure I gave it away somewhere in my training.  This ‘new’ Peekaboo style took me to a new level in the gym, I felt like I had a style all my own (of course this wasn’t true), I imagined I was Mike Tyson, slipping and countering, and knocking guys out!

Style is one thing, ability is another, and the ability to execute your style is even another thing.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that I didn’t have the punching power of Mike Tyson, most guys don’t, even the pros.  After many beat downs in the first 6 months at the gym I started to get into my rhythm and style, and in my first fight I was like a white Mike Tyson, I bobbed and weaved and came ahead with heavy blows.  It wasn’t all glory, I was gassed by the end of the second round from all the aggression.  I won that fight, mostly from solid defense and the ability to land clean shots when it was my turn to throw, I didn’t knock my opponent out and it wasn’t the Mike Tyson-esque performance I imagined.  Which brings me to the purpose of this post, a reader writes in:

… I also noticed at the amateur level, everyone learns to box the traditional way. However, I really like the unpredictability of Floyd Mayweather’s style, or the ambush style of Sergio Martinez. I believe much of their success has more to do with their unorthodox style than just there natural ability.

What are your thoughts on fighting like the above-mentioned fighters…Sergio and Roy Jones Jr. often drop their hands, yet it seems to work for them. I don’t have amazing quickness, but would certain drills or repetition help me achieve similar working styles at the amateur level?”

There are a couple things you should keep in mind with any kind of style:

1)  Your style is how you put each piece of your boxing repertoire together in action.  To keep it basic, one guy likes to catch the jab and counter, the other guy likes to slip the jab and counter.  This is the beginning of style.  Boxing is about position, technique, patterns and rhythm.  You can emulate Roy Jones or Mayweather, but you will always be you with your own style, this can be good or bad.  Take what you learn and make it your own, remember you are trying to win and good fighters do what it takes to win.  Style is secondary to winning.  Just look at how Mayweather changed up his style right after he got hit by Mosley in round 2 of their fight.

2) Fight based on your competitive arena.  Most top pro boxers started with a traditional amateur style.  This is because the amateur game is based on punch connects and judges don’t like fighters who stray from the amateur style template.  They think that you are ‘showboating’ when you drop your hands.  I’ve never seen a guy who has dropped his hands in the amateurs win against an evenly matched opponent, the judges just won’t score for him.  In the amateur game you have to play to the judges favour, you can drop your hands a bit and work an evasive style, but I wouldn’t go too far from this, unless you know you can clean up your opponent.

3) Dropping your hands has it’s purpose.  The main reasons to drop the left hand into a Philly shell position or to drop both hands and be cagey are; first, you can move your head quicker based on weight distribution along your body, second, you can see punches a bit easier, third, you can shoulder roll to set up counters, and fourth, you can throw punches from outside of your opponents line of vision.  If you are going to drop one or both of your hands then make sure you can back it up with real technique.
4) The best way to develop any style is to take risks in sparring and practice what you are trying to achieve.  You have to take risks if you want to improve and not rely on what works all the time.  You have to put your ego aside and risk losing a round or two to try something new, that’s the best way to learn.

5)  Understand that distance and rhythm are critical to your boxing style.  Look at Mayweather who likes to pot shot and pick opponents apart from the outside, he controls the distance and paralyzes his opponents mentally.  Look at Pacquiao who moves well side to side, moves his head and the comes in with quick combos and moves a bit only to come in with a second set of combos.  Look at Manuel Marquez who has slick and measured counterpunching as he waits for you to create the opening, and look at Victor Ortiz who barrages you with punches and forces openings.

All in all, your style is going to come down to your mentality, your level of proficiency with each technique, and your ability to put pieces together.  Practice the techniques until you have them down and work your new style in sparring, take risks during sparring.

Having said all that, I like this guy’s video below on how to work on the Philly Shell defense.

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The Machine Gun Puncher

Every now and then you’ll come across this guy, he is less skilled than you, doesn’t believe much in defense, has no patterns or combinations, and just comes straight ahead with rapid fire machine gun style punching.  I’m not talking about rapid fire high volume punchers like Pacquiao or P. Williams, these guys have style and slick head movement and footwork to compliment their onslaught.  I’m talking about the ignoramus who just comes straight ahead.  The trouble is that he probably has a decent amount of endurance and speed, and if you are not sure how to handle this guy you might have to wait until the third round to really get his number, if you are having an off day then even that might not happen.  These guys make can make you look bad as they unleash a fury upon you, and all the more so if they brought their girlfriend along to impress.

There are three ways I’ve handled these guys, not all will work the same depending on the speed of your oppenent and your current level of fitness.  These are fight strategies, general strategies that you’ll find work especially well against machine gun fighters of lesser skill.

1)  Tighten up your defense and crowd him.  The rapid fire puncher usually has no clue how to move backwards, let alone fight moving backwards, they expect you to follow the game plan that if he is going to come ahead you will either move back or stay where you are.  This is perfect for him as he can guage distance (the way he does on the bag) and use momentum to chase you down as you retreat.  The other thing he loves is a brawl, it brings you down to his level and negates the finer points of your game.  So this is what I recommend, adopt a Winky Wright style defense, hands high, elbows tight to your ribs, forearms like pillars, make sure your hands are slightly open and the heel of palms are turned a bit inwards to prevent uppercuts from easily finding their way (see image below, I’ve left one glove off so you can see the position of the hand).

Once you’ve adopted this posture move towards your opponent, walk into his punching range, and when he starts firing take another step closer.  It helps if you can twist your body left and right to time and absorb the blows but it’s not necessary, try to make him feel uncomfortably close, if he tries to adjust the distance then get closer.  Most often he will step back to gain space or catch his breath, and this is when you go on the attack.  It’s very rare that I recommend leading with a straight right hand, but this is one of those times, the moment he steps back you step in and unload the straight right hand and left hook, if you connect then throw a few more shots and reset.  I recommend staying close but walking to the right or left, don’t give him space, create angles.  Most of all stay relaxed, and keep your eyes on his upper chest or neck, don’t let his onslaught throw off your vision.

2) Go on the run.  If your opponent has poor footwork and has trouble chasing down a mobile opponent then use your lateral motion and quick in and outs to go on the run.  Let him know that he is going to have to take risks to catch you, he’s going to have time you perfectly, and get you up against the ropes or in the corner to have a chance.  I have most often used this strategy in the first round of a fight when my opponent thinks he is going to intimidate me with a barrage of offense and grunting.  Don’t let it fool you, your skill and ability to weather this storm is the mark of a true boxer, stay calm and go on the run with tight defense, and don’t forget to return the favour a minute into the round.  The beauty of knowing that you can outrun your opponent is that you can most likely catch him when you decide to go on the offense.

3) Punch when he is punching.  This is a bit of Jeet Kune Do theory here, and boxing already has it built in.  For the rapid fire puncher I would avoid throwing if he is in the middle of his attack, the best time to throw is when he starts.

Stay light on your feet and guage the distance and keep moving side to side, when he gets within range and is about to fire then YOU fire.  There are a few rules for this though:

  • Keep your head off the centre line when you throw, this means slip and jab and follow up with more shots, or slip while throwing the right hand, or drop lower and throw to the body.  Don’t come in straight with your head up the middle, that is where he will be firing
  • Do NOT stand still when you throw, either step in with your shot and intercept him, or step back and throw the left hook while stepping back.  Don’t be a sitting duck.
  • This applies all the time but be especially conscious of your chin and the non-punching hand.  If you are going to walk into a fire of punching then stay tight, this is not a time to be loose and slick.

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How to Prevent Becoming Unmotivated

Motivation, or lack thereof is one of the biggest factors in determining how far you go in the sport of boxing.  We all come to this sport with a drive, a will to be better, to dominate and to win.  The biggest problem I found throughout my training was not how to stay motivated, but rather how to prevent becomeing unmotivated.  Life finds ways of eating at your positive energy and there are things I believe you can do to mitigate these erosive factors.  The wear and tear of training, sparring and fighting take its toll, staying motivated even when life is perfect is not guaranteed, it’s easy to give in to guilty indulgence at almost any time.  In a punishing sport like boxing, what not to do becomes just has important as what TO do.

1)  Keep your relationships simple.  There is only so much you can do to stop the demands of a parent or spouse.  Even the most considerate will draw you into their world and away from yours.  Boxing requires time, energy and focus that some people will never understand.  Nevertheless, the spouse or parent is the least of your worries, at least they are predictable and have most likely been in your life for awhile.   What you need to be concerned with are any new women in your life, especially if you are young (between 14 – 24).  They are hard to resist, rendering the word ‘no’ almost impossible to utter.

If you want your boxing to stay level, then beware of lust, love and the women that inspire it.  Don’t underestimate the power of the dopamine rush they will send to your brain.  Training sessions will be replaced with ‘hangin’ out’, runs will be replaced with phone calls, and pugilistic thoughts will be replaced with poetry and sexting.  Remember, the line from the first Rocky movie, “Women weaken legs!”  They also weaken minds.  It’s actually quite easy to convince a woman of your dedication and have them understand, the problem you’ll most likely face is that you will want to spend time with them over boxing.  You’ll lay your own trap and walk right into unbeknownst to yourself.  Don’t give yourself too much credit when it comes to willpower with women, just stick to training hard.

2) Keep your financial house in order.  Less energy spent chasing money means more energy spent in the gym, however you should still chase hard after the money you need to sustain yourself.  If you are young and need money for clothes, a phone, transportation and the occasional outing then make sure you’re not dropping your dollars on frivolous things.   You can probably downgrade from the pair of Jordan’s and extra bling until they discover a gene for Jordan and bling dependency. Spend only what you need and get in the habit of putting money aside if you can afford to.  If you are out of school then this advice is all the more meaningful.  It’s great to know that you are dedicated to boxing and don’t want work to get in the way f your ‘future’, but sometimes you need to suck it up and put in the hours, or get the job that has the hours.  I spent the early part of my twenties broke doing part-time jobs and had lots of time for boxing, I can tell you that the blow to your pride and self-esteem from barely making ends meet will leave you laying around on the couch all day instead of doing roadwork.  A busy person tends to stay busy, don’t beat yourself up if you had to work overtime and missed a workout.  I know what it’s like to wash dishes until 5am and go home beat.  Hold on to some cash and focus on needs, not wants.  Keep your financial house and your independence in tact, train your ass off when you have the time, you’ll go much further.

3) Stay away from drugs, alcohol, sugar, and fast food.  Do I need to say more on this?  Nothing will bring your training to a halt faster than occasional use of a substance that becomes too occasional, and trust me it will, so why even bother?  Your prime will be over by your mid to late twenties, and by then you’ll know if you have potential, after that you’ll have the rest of your life to ruin, why start now?

As for sugar and fast food, don’t be fooled by the fact that they’re natural substances, so is asbestos!  Do some research on sugar and the hormone dopamine and it’s psychological effects.  You are an addict and don’t even know it.  Too much sugar will leave you wanting another late snack, it will make want to leave the gym a bit earlier than you should, and will kill you when it comes time to making weight.  A good fighter should stay in good shape year round (Ricky Hatton the exception) and always be ready to fight.  Get in the habit now of treating yourself right, when your fight career is over you are not gonna like being known as the fat guy who used to box.

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Mental Training

I played hockey throughout my childhood and teenage years; I was a goalie.  The main reason I became a goalie was because I was one of the worst players and slowest skaters on my team, and becoming a goalie was my attempt at getting some glory out of hockey as long as I was playing it.  Fortunately for me, I was a pretty damn good goalie.  Although I wasn’t athletically blessed with speed or natural ability, I was blessed with two things: quick reaction and good awareness, both of which are essential to boxing.


In my last few years playing goalie, I came upon a book at my local library called Basketball FundaMENTALS which outlined the core concepts and benefits of mental training for sports.  I incorporated the ideas into my practice, then made a some adaptations and saw huge improvements in my game!  Since then, I’ve read dozens of books on mental training for sports and I’ve created my own template for boxing. I would like to share the framework with you.


I can’t tell you how many people I’ve fought or sparred who could kick my ass in a 40 yrd dash.  Most of my opponents have been taller, stronger, and faster.  If you’re not blessed with raw speed, then you can definitely make up for it with quick reaction, sound defense, and scenario based training.  But the key is to be able to ‘read the play’, see what’s going on, and have these skills embedded in your mind and in your boxing repertoire.  Of course, you do need the essential skills i.e. how to block a left hook, how to slip a right hand etc. I’m going to assume you have these skills.  If you don’t, then write me and we can talk.


When I talk about mental training, I am referring to how your mind responds to external stimuli such as a kick or a punch or a takedown attempt.  There are other aspects to mental training such as mental toughness, confidence and composure under pressure, all of which are related to how you respond physically but will be covered in another post.  Essentially, with mental training, you are creating movies in your mind.  The clearer they are the better, the more you can control and manipulate them the better, the more senses (touch, sound) you can incorporate the better.

Let’s go over the concept of mental movies as they relate to sports.  A mental movie is a dynamic sequence that you can watch over and over again in your mind.  A mental movie could be of an opponent throwing a jab at you, or a left hook, or of someone blocking your left hook etc.  You could also put yourself in situations that you see in pro fights on TV.  Your goal is to create mental movies with positive outcomes, and to create answers for situations that cause you problems.  You want full control of the movie, you want to be able to watch it frame by frame.  For the most part, positive outcomes in your mind come from positive success in the past, or at least they come from the belief that success is possible.  Train your mind to see yourself succeeding and you stand a much better chance of doing so.


Ok, let’s create a scenario where I’m fighting a taller and faster opponent.  Start movie – He’s circling me to the left and he’s snapping the jab quickly and frequently.  How am I going to deal with this?  Ok first, I see myself cutting off the ring, he switches directions to the right, I move to my left and I cut him off again, he then moves back to his left (in your mind you could just work on cutting off the ring, no piece is too small).  As I get closer he snaps the jab, double jab, and moves back to his right.  I see myself slipping each jab, I’m just on the end of his punching range. I move left as he’s moving right and I cut him off again, he throws his jab again, as he does I make my move by slipping to my right and simultaneously stepping in with the double jab and overhand right.  I land the overhand right, and follow up with the left hook and right uppercut which he covers up and blocks, I then step out to the right – end of movie.


The scenario above is actually quite complex, it would be just fine if all you wanted to work on was blocking and slipping individual punches. Just imagine a guy in front of you throwing single techniques. Play your movies at super slow speed, and once you are comfortable, play them at normal speed.  Change up the opponent, make them faster, shorter, taller, stronger.  Put yourself in front of Pacquiao or Mayweather and see what you can do.


Ok, so how can you maximize the the effect of mental movies.  First, you want to create them and work with them in a relaxed state so that your mind can focus on all aspects of each movie (primarily sight, sound, and feel).  The relaxed state is also important because you want your mind to associate your sport with feeling relaxed.  This is the optimal state for high performance.


Here is the program outline:


1) Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for 20 – 30 mins.

2) Get into a comfortable position either laying down or sitting in a chair

3) Take 8 deep breaths – inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and exhale for 4 seconds

4) Take 10 seconds for each body part and focus on relaxing it as much as possible, make each body part as heavy as you can (start at the bottom) – feet, calves, thighs, hips and glutes, lower back, stomach, mid back, chest, upper back and neck, shoulders, arms and hands, face.

5) Next 5 mins – Start to visualize yourself performing in the ring (or Octagon, or your arena of competition).  At first, watch yourself as a spectator, imagine you are in the front row watching yourself perform.  Go through every scenario you can think of, see yourself dealing effecively with attacks, see yourself successfully moving, defending and landing strikes.  Go slow at first and see things clearly, pay attention to key details such as distance and technique.

6) Next 10-15 mins – Now go inside yourself and start to watch from your own eyes as a performer, feel how your feet move, notice your opponent in front of you, his expression and his intent, show no fear, you are calm.  Now have him attack you, defend and counter, then have him go on the defensive and watch yourself penetrate his defense.  Create as many scenarios as you like.  Work slipping the jab of a very tall opponent as you get inside and throw your combos.

7) Conclude the event the way you would like to see it.  If it is a match then conclude with a KO, or you winning by decision.  If you are visualizing sparring then conclude with the final bell and you standing strong as if you could go another round.

8) Wake yourself up slowly, rub your eyes and face, rub the back of your neck, sit up and massage your legs and feet in case they have fallen asleep.


I recommend performing your mental training 3-5 times per week.


JT Van V

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