What is something that successful boxers, investors, and gamblers at Joy Casino all have in common? Sports psychology. It is the science behind sports that helps athletes rehabilitate after injury, learn to handle emotions such as anxiety, improve athletic performance, and achieve their goals. It combines all of these psychological characteristics to strengthen discipline, focus, and boost overall performance.
In boxing and many other combat sports, rigorous physical and mental training is required. Training is crucial not just for victory, but to ensure safety during the match. Boxing psychology is an ongoing process that starts well before the game and lasts long after one leaves the ring.
Our psychology expert, Daniel Bennet, offers 12 mental skills that can be applied to boxing as well as other sports.
1) Goal Setting
Setting goals is the first step. It gives boxers a clear view of what they want to achieve and what they must do in order to succeed. Having short term and long term goals tie all the qualities together. By including mental training to reach their goal, the boxer is increasing motivation, confidence, discipline, and more.
This method is often called “winning with your mind” and is a common skill in sports among the best boxers in history. It consists heavily of rehearsal and imagery. It is effective for preparation and building confidence.
3) Anxiety Control
There is a lot of pressure and stress before and during a match. Anxiety control helps fighters perform well under pressure, stay calm, and think clearly under intense situations. This skill can be achieved through breathing exercises and situational awareness so that they can make good split-second decisions.
Many in the sports and fitness community often believe that they need the motivation to follow their routine. In reality, discipline is what makes athletes train, eat right, and do what they have to do, regardless of their willpower.
Without discipline, boxers wander from their goal and are more likely to ruin their progress. The goal is to make their good habits to be integrated into their lifestyle. Maintaining their diet and schedule should feel as natural as brushing teeth in the morning.
Motivation is the mental process of what fuels an athlete’s approach to training, competition, and performance. It’s synonymous with willpower, a desire to perform well, and overcoming obstacles and adversaries.
It often comes in one of two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is self-motivation. The boxer finds it within themselves to become a better version of themself. Extrinsic motivation is external sources that push them to improve.
Concentration can mean the difference between loss and victory. No matter how tired athletes are, they are trained to stay sharp at all costs. Concentration and focus can be improved by practicing until tired, using grounding techniques, and setting pre-match routines to clear internal and external distractions.
Game face isn’t reserved just for game day. Ideally, the athlete needs to train in the same conditions they will face in a fight.
Some of the best athletes have the best attitude for a reason. Your outlook has a direct influence on performance and behavior and vice versa. Optimism serves to help boxers recover faster from losses, ease anxiety, and perform better in intense situations. It also offers the courage and risk-taking factors that allow many of them to win a match.
This quality is possibly the most important and the most underestimated. Coaches and trainers play a crucial role in a boxer’s life. That is why communication between the two is key to access their needs and meet expectations. Not only does the coach have to make it clear what they expect of their trainee, but also the boxer needs to open up about their difficulties.
A successful boxer never stops learning and honing their skill. Even if they are the master of the ring, successful fighters understand that there’s always room for improvement. Especially when confronted with new fighters, there’s always something more to learn. Boxers that are on the path of self-improvement do not hesitate to seek out advice and guidance from their coaches.
Studies in sports psychology show that confident athletes are more likely to perform well. Self-confidence is proven to have a direct influence on performance. Confidence is built upon believing in yourself and your skills, as well as hard work, learning, and preparation.
11) Inner Voice
An inner voice, also known as self-talk, is a person’s verbal monologue of thoughts while they are conscious. It is how one reflects on one’s self, regain focus, and boost confidence before facing and overcoming obstacles.
While talking to yourself may raise some eyebrows, positive self-talk is a common practice among high ranking athletes. It is similar to visualization – except you are building yourself up in general. How you approach yourself reflects on your behavior and performance.
12) Mental Toughness
Boxers must be tough mentally and physically. Mental toughness is being able to perform the best of your ability regardless of obstacles, adversaries, and circumstances. No matter how hard you fall, or how frequent, your mental toughness is what makes you get back up again.
Overall, boxing is more than knowing how to block and throw punches. Their physic is only good as their mental strength, and both are trained zealously from the beginning of their careers. With the right mindset and dedication, boxers – with guidance from their coaches – can pave the path to the championship.