A major part of being fighting fit, is being mentally prepared and ready for the fight itself, and there are many things you can do in relation to this. In this article, I have highlighted some key points which I consider to be important; points that have helped me through fights all over the world competing in my beloved Kickboxing.
So, there you are stood in your corner. Across the ring stands the person who wants to take it all away from you. The one person standing between you and your victory and EVERY thing you have trained for... but then this happens...
“Did I train hard enough? What am I doing here? They look really tough? Look at the condition they are in! I’m going to lose. Fuck, what am I doing here?! I don’t want to get hurt! My friends are here! They’ll see me lose! I’m going to lose.”
We all experience fear and any fighter that says he hasn’t, is lying. It’s natural to have these experiences. But how do we control them? How do we stop ourselves from talking our way into defeat? Filling your mind with all the negative attitude is what will make you lose, make you fall and not get back up. Why? Because you have already defeated yourself before the first bell has even gone.
A lot of attitude comes from confidence and you gain that confidence in your fight camp and in the run up to the fight. Now, a lot of things outside the camp can also have a knock on effect, but that’s for a later article. In my opinion, the main things responsible for lack of confidence are unpreparedness and attitude so let’s break these down.
Unpreparedness: Being unprepared is something that has happened to me personally, relying on my talent to get me by, whilst my opponent is in the gym giving it blood, sweat and tears. So, as I say to all my fighters: “Have you done everything possible to ensure that you are prepared to go to battle? Honestly, ask yourself...have you? Did you get up and do your run? Did you give it your all in training? Did you stick to your diet? Did you rest when you were meant to?” If you have done everything possible to ensure you are ready for battle, then great. If you haven’t, then don’t expect to be victorious. The only person to blame is you. Yes, your camp is there, but YOU’RE the one who needs to work.
Attitude: Having a negative attitude in the preparation to your fight is detrimental to the outcome. We all experience off days, but you can’t beat yourself up about it all the time, otherwise you will never progress. Instead, learn from these days and turn the negative into a positive. Setting a negative mental state into your camp will bring in doubt. It will let you create a fear of losing, constantly questioning yourself and your ability to get the job done. Instead, create a winning attitude. One where every time you get knocked down or feel you’ve taken a step backwards, get back up and get back in, telling yourself you will win and nothing can keep you down. Have the people around you do the same. Make them push you! Make them fill you will a positive and winning mentality.
Every fighter on the planet has been nervous and afraid. What separates the winners from the losers, is attitude.
From the minute you make the decision to step into the fighting arena, you are already winning. You already have a positive mind set so don’t fill that with negatives. Few people have what it takes to get in there in the first place. You are one of the elite and you should always see it that way. From the grassroots fighter, all the way through to the Professional; it was desire that got you there in the first place. Don’t ever lose sight of that.
You are a Warrior. You’re here to test yourself against all odds. This includes having days where nothing goes to plan, where you wake up feeling like shit, and you just don’t think you can take any more. You didn’t sign up to quit though. You signed up to make a difference to yourself, because deep down you know your worth and you know you can do it.
It is also important that in the run up to the fight, you experience certain emotions. These will include fear, nervousness, excitement, a steady calmness and more. These are all natural emotions, and you will know the difference between these and not being ready. The key to being successful in battle is learning how to control these emotions. Channel them and make them work for you.
One of the main things I had always done when competing, was to visualize my fight. I used to picture the whole fight in my head to help relieve some of the stress and anxiety. Picture the whole event: the weigh in, facing your opponent, stepping into the ring, the fight itself, every single aspect and go through it calmly. Picture the outcome – you standing in the centre of the arena with your arm raised up high in victory. It is also important when visualising that you put yourself in conflict, in tough positions, not allowing yourself to just walk through your opponent. Visualize it in detail several times, so that when the night comes, you are ready. You have anticipated what is going to happen and nothing will stop you.
Finally, remember one thing: the person who is standing across from you is in exactly the same position, feeling the same nerves, the same fear, and the same excitement.
After all, we are all human.
The one thing you need to do to ensure you are completely ready is too work your arse off during your camp. The more you put into your training, the more you are both mentally and physically, going to be ready. Ready for war, ready for battle and most importantly... ready for victory.