It is often said that being a top-level sportsperson is as much about conquering the mental side of a game than its physical demands. This is certainly true of boxing, where the slightest mental weakness is instantly pounced upon by rivals desperate to get to the top.
For this reason, there are a whole host of sports psychologists who are added to the teams of world ranked pros, who are always on the lookout for any sort of edge they can get over the competition.
Here we take a look at the mindset approaches and techniques used by the world’s best gamers, to see if any of them could prove useful to Irish boxers, whether they are busy moving up through the ranks or are already established world champions.
Having a strong and positive mindset is undoubtedly one of the keys to making it to the top of the sport of boxing
Believe That You Belong
Imposter syndrome is very much a real thing, especially when you don’t have the experience of performing to a high level under the bright lights and in front of a baying live crowd. That is the spectacle that can so often derail the best laid plans of a fighter before they have even set foot in the ring. Online gamers also suffer this sort of stage fright, whether they are entering a high roller poker tournament for the first time or jumping up a rank in a battle royale or RPG game. The thing that top gamers are sure to do is to learn how to adopt a pro-athlete mindset, believing in their abilities to such a degree that anxiety nor doubt is ever able to disrupt their in-game thought processes.
Many boxers are so cocksure of themselves that confidence is rarely ever a problem for them, but things can all come crashing down when they lose their unbeaten record for the first time. That is when mindset techniques such as this can become vital to the longevity of a boxer’s fighting career. After all, that once unwavering confidence will not just rebuild itself.
Allied to the point made above, visualization is a key element of any pro gamer’s mental preparations. This doesn’t just mean imagining having your hand raised at the end of an online tournament or lifting a gleaming trophy in the air, but rather being capable of visualizing the tactics your opponent will employ, so that countering them comes as second nature.
It obviously becomes clear that such a technique can benefit boxers, so they can foresee that deadly hook or sneaky uppercut long before it is even thrown. Visualization is also another way of reinforcing the pro-athlete mindset that was mentioned earlier in the piece, because ultimately this is a novel way of being able to predict the future.
Sparring, pad work, cardio, and weight training are now increasingly being joined by mindset training, with boxers employing everything from expert psychologists to meditation techniques
Mental Recovery as Important as Physical Recovery
Most boxing fans will have seen the aftermath of a boxing match, with fighters dipping injured hands in ice baths, having wounds stitched up in their dressing room, or going through a thorough warm down routine. This is because most fighters these days have accepted that physical recovery begins immediately after a tough training session or a brutal fight.
However, few realize that the same is true of mental recovery, with fighters needing to give themselves the time and space required to recover mentally and emotionally from an intense 12 round bout or strenuous training camp. Online gamers know all about the mental rigors of competition because their fights are 100% mental. Some of the mind calming techniques which gamers use, and that fighters can also adopt, include meditation sessions at sun rise and sun down, as well as mental agility puzzles, which get all those worn down synapses sparking again.