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BOXING PSYCHOLOGY

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FROCH vs BARNEY AND GUEST BOOK

What is fear?
 
No matter how skillful or fit a boxer might be physically, this will count for nothing if the boxer is not prepared mentally. Many boxers underachieve because of the demons swimming around in their heads, from the weeks of build up to sitting in the changing room waiting to get gloved up then the long walk to the ring.
But what causes these very uncomfortable feelings? and more importantly, how can we handle them and use them to our advantage and not let them drag us down feeling like cowards? Well first thing I must stress is that EVERYONE, no matter who they are, get the exact same feeling as you before a fight.
The difference between a champion and a coward is the champion can control his feelings, first lets look at the different causes of these feelings and what they mean.
 
Fight or flight sydrome
This is the most common feeling the boxer will experience leading up to a fight, it is the brain telling you to run away to survive or stay and fight. It would rather you don't face the fear because survival is it's main aim and there is more chance of this if you don't hang around. Adrenalin is released into the blood stream getting you ready for action (this makes you stronger), you will sometimes feel sick and need to go to the toilet, you will get the shivers and sometimes stutter. Another name for this is FEAR.
 
Eustress
This is a type of stress that has a positive effect, the boxer will actually seek the stressful situations and thrive on the feelings associated with them, they will get fight or flight but they use it to their advantage.
 
Stress
Is seen as being the result of the performer perceiving an imbalance between what is being demanded of them, and whether they think they are capable of meeting that demand i.e "am i good enough to be in the same ring as him?"
 
Anxiety
Is seen as being a negative emotional state usually associated with feelings of apprehension and worry. This is caused by over arousal due to a person being stressed. Anxiety is usually therefore associated with feelings such as nervousness, worry and apprehension.
 
Arousal
Is seen as a general internal state of physiological and psychology activity and alertness varying from deep sleep to intense exitment.
 
Now we have had a quick look at the different types of feeling a boxer may go through, lets look at ways to overcome the negative aspects and become more confident.
 

Imagery
This is often used with relaxation techniques in order to reduce arousal. The boxer imagines the cicumstances and feelings associated with being relaxed.
Imagery can also be used to practice something, this is known as mental reheasal. The boxer can 'run throug' his performance in his mind, deciding how to cope wtih tactics, what shots he will throw, earing the crowd, smelling the atmosphere and feeling the fear and handling them confidently. By doing this he is working on some possible sources of stress - uncertainty, pressure, low self - confidence - to minimise their effect. This type of training is thought to enhance performance to a great degree if used correctly. Ten minutes a day is good, lay in a dark room and imagine your at the fight, you feel scared, you can hear the crowd. Imagine your getting gloved up then walking to the ring and getting in, imagine yourself performing well and handling the far. Try this before training, imagine sparring etc, its no good doing it on fight night. You need to practice, thats the only way you get good at it. Did you know the brain struggles to tell the difference between reality and imagery (if done properly). Give it a go, I think you be surprised by the results, what have you got to lose?.

Relaxation
You can use tapes and such to wind down after training, one widely used method is progressive muscular relaxation (PMR). This involves tensing and then relaxing groups of muscles in turn over the whole body. Boxers can devise their own techniques along these lines, and practice usually enables the athlete to relax effectively in a very short space of time.
Other types of relaxation:
. Meditation
. Hypnosis.
You can listen to music, this is a good relaxation method used alot, whatever feels good for you.
 
Goal setting
Goal setting can help the boxer focus away from the source of stress and on something achievable. It should focus on performance related goals rather than on outcome related goals. Boxers can be helped to focus on a particular, achievable, goal during performance which can switch attention from external factors which may create arousal and worry.
 
Self motivation
One way to do this is to give yourself buzz words, or a quote of some sort you read every time you go training or to a fight. This type is effective because it releases self confidence and give you that something extra in training/fighting. An example coild be a note hand written on a piece of paper that you keep with your training gear and read when using it. It could say something like "today i will train like a champion, so tommorow i may become one"

Self talk
The ability to perceive arousal and to maintain a problem focused attitude before and during performance has a positive effect on performance. Self - talk helps the boxer to see arousal as positive. Self - talk can be used to change your perspective of the situation. You could tell yourself "ive trained so hard for this fight that no one can stop me".
 
The quotes on the card i mentioned is also a good form of self - talk. During the fight when things are getting tough have a statement that you would tell yourself to give you that extra something.
 
Conclusion
Boxing is a draining sport, both mentally and physically. Don't underestimate the power of the mind, it is a powerful tool that can make or brake you. If you use these suggestions I am certain you will see some improvement in your performance, but you don't have to believe me. Try them out for a while and see how you get on, but not just in the ring, it has to become part of your mindset. If you have a presentation at school/work then stand up and speak clearly, be proud of your work. You can achieve whatever you believe (you know what I mean, don't try and fly). Think positvely all the time, have positive quotes on your bedroom door, or in the office, don't watch the news as soon as you get up in the morning because watching bad news does nothing for positive thinking. Most importantly of, believe and reach for the stars, you never know where you might get.

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