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The Mental Aspect of Boxing

When we think of boxers training, we think of the hours spent in the gym, the blood, sweat and tears, and, of course the power ballad fuelled Rocky montages. The physical side of boxing is constantly being developed to improve cardiovascular conditioning and muscular endurance, yet the mental aspect can sometimes be neglected. Boxing is not a team sport where you can rely on the energy from your teammates to spur you on as you are in the ring alone, will most likely get hurt and will have to continue fighting. This is where mental discipline impacts directly on the physical element of your training. The mind is a powerful tool that can have a deciding factor on your physical ability. Although all athletes understand the importance of nutrition and fitness for success, why are some athletes still fitter and better-rounded than others? Why do some struggle to make weight but for others it’s no problem? Mental discipline plays a huge part of this and your psychological mindset will normally dictate whether or not you skip that workout, or relax on your diet. Early morning running is a common occurrence for those who take boxing seriously. While the majority of us are still snoring and dribbling into our pillows, those in training are pounding the pavement and running sprints and intervals. This is where mental toughness kicks in on the days where it’s freezing cold, raining and you had a late night the day before. There are no teammates to draw energy from that early and you’re on your own, just as you would be in the ring. Therefore the decision whether to train or not is personal one and if you decide to commit to training, it becomes part of your life and even takes it over, due to the very real risk of being injured competing in boxing. Through the mental training you develop the physical training but boxing requires so much more than just the physical. You need the mental awareness to get into the ring and overcome the innate fear of being punched! So how do boxers do that? They do it through sparring at a level that is suitable for them in order to both desensitise them to the physical effects of a punch, as well as developing the ability to sport when a punch is going to be thrown. In addition to this, confidence plays a huge part in boxing and if you believe you are not good enough to fight or don’t have what it takes, there is a very real chance you will lose and be injured. Those that excel in their chosen fields don’t focus on the negatives, but rather look for ways to improve. How can I improve my jab power? How can I win against a bigger opponent? When it gets difficult, that’s when athletes rise to the challenge, not crumble under the pressure. “I don’t count my sit-ups. I only start counting when it starts hurting. That is when I start counting, because then it really counts. That’s what makes you a champion” Muhammad Ali