Mental Toughness is the ability to be disciplined. Mike Tyson explained it best when he said
“Discipline is doing what you hate to do, but nonetheless doing it like you love it.”
So essentially, mental toughness is your ability to do the things you dont want to do, it doesnt matter what it is, how long it will take, or how hard you need to work
Your mental toughness is how efficiently you get those tasks done
But how does this relate to boxing?
How it Affects Boxing
“It always comes down to mind games. Whoever is more mentally strong wins”
Ali didn't just say things like this, he was the type to live by it,
Known for his mental toughness both inside and outside of the boxing ring.
He had strong willpower with the ability to face any challenges and conquer whatever or whoever was put in front of him
But he isn't the only one, nearly every great fighter in history is known for having an unmatched and unbreakable mindset
After all, boxing is a sport that can be both physically and mentally grueling.
And even though technical skills, footwork, and fitness are important
The mental fortitude to endure the physical punishment of a fight and still make smart decisions is the true factor to determine who will come out on top.
So here’s everything you need to understand and maximize your mental toughness.
Fear Is Like Fire:
The truth is everyone is afraid, especially in boxing
And rightfully so, if you plan on fighting then you essentially plan on stepping into a closed-off box with someone who has made it their mission to hurt you as much as possible
But you must remember that they are just as afraid as you are, so it doesn’t matter how much fear you have
What truly matters is how you plan on using that fear.
You see fear is like a fire
If fire is controlled and used correctly then it can be a source of fuel to supply the most powerful engines on earth.
However, if you allow it to get out of control then it will burn down everything in sight and you’ll be left with nothing.
So when you decide to step into the ring and you start to feel the fear creeping up on you
Dont allow it to paralyze you, instead try to harness all of its power and channel it into aggression.
The Loud Guy is Not Always the Most Deadly
You’ve definitely heard this before. However, most people only say this because they're too insecure to be the loud guy
And if they were given even the slightest bit of power, they too would start being obnoxious and running their mouth
So why is the loud guy, not the deadliest?
Because screaming and shouting is a signs of the fire getting out of control
So even though he has channeled his fear into aggression, he is wasting all of his energy on words and he risks revealing too much information in the heat of the moment
Now I'm not saying that it will be easy to remain calm and composed during the most heated moments during the fight
But your ability to control your emotions and keep all of that fuel and fire inside will give you the advantage when it’s time to actually compete.
On Fight Day
Fight Day is when your mental toughness will really be tested.
Because staying focused and controlling the fire becomes 100x harder
When the lights are bright, the crowd is roaring, and the opponent is standing across the ring, ready to kill.
And all of this is only the beginning because that fire may get you through round 1 and help you through round 2
But you need the willpower and mental fortitude to remain focused during the third and final round
When you’re all sweaty, tired, out of breath, your face is stinging, your mind is spinning
That is when you truly find out how much you want it
Because it’s easy to box when you’re fresh and filled with adrenaline
But you need the mental toughness to keep going when all of that goes away and it's just you and your own thoughts.
Mental Toughness in Training
Mental toughness is not only required in the ring but also during your training sessions
You see mental toughness is actually a skill and like any skill
It requires you to work on it daily in order to improve it
This involves pushing past the urge to quit, embracing discomfort, and maintaining focus during those times of high fatigue and stress.
This should be done EVERY SINGLE DAY.
But I promise you, improving your mental toughness in training will pay off when fight day arrives.
Until then, focus on your mindset and train yourself both mentally and physically in preparation.
So how exactly do you train your mental toughness?
3 Mental Changes Required To Increase Mental Toughness
1. Know Your "Why"
Understanding your purpose and motivation behind boxing allows you to tap into a deep reservoir of inner strength.
Sit down with a pen and paper and dedicate at least 30 minutes to writing down all the reasons you want to box
Try to think about the deeper reasons and be completely honest with yourself
By doing this you’ll never have to question yourself again and have an emotionally triggered reason to tap into that reservoir of inner strength
2. Recognize Your Sacrifices
After you write your why, list off all the sacrifices you need to actually accomplish your goals
This may require you to do some research and speak to your coach
But it will prepare you so you can be better equipped for the challenges to come
Holding yourself accountable for your actions and performance allows you to take ownership of your progress.
Because you will run into problems and things won't go as you expected
At the end of the day, none of this will matter if you dont identify where you messed up and how you can avoid the mistake next time
By setting high standards and maintaining discipline, you develop mental resilience and the ability to bounce back from setbacks.
7 Physical Changes To Increase Mental Toughness
Each step forward reinforces your determination to overcome challenges and subconsciously tells your body that you will not quit.
All you need to do is measure out about 100 m or just over 300 feet, sprint one way and then walk back before sprinting again.
Repeat this 20 times without rest 3-4 times a week to get your mind and body fighting fit. (Don’t do this on sparring day as it will affect your sparring)
2. Ice Bath
The shock to your system also teaches you to endure uncomfortable situations to increase mental fortitude.
Although ice baths are ideal, if you don’t have access then a cold shower will do.
Start off with 2 minutes at a time and as you get more comfortable with the cold you can work your way up to 5
It's a small act of discipline but it will have a massive impact on your mindset.
If you dont want to get punched in the face, don't do boxing.
Facing an opponent challenges your mental and physical abilities,
Teaching you to stay calm, think strategically, and persevere energy during those moments when you're tired and hurt.
Obviously, you should do whatever your coach tells you to, but if he isn't around then I would recommend 3 x 3-minute rounds with a 30-second break.
However, if the fight is coming up then it should be shortened to 3 x 2-minute rounds with 1 minute rests to better simulate the fight
Find a quiet space, sit in stillness, and practice meditation.
This exercise trains your mind to focus, remain present, and let go of distractions.
It may sound pointless and like a waste of time but after a couple of weeks, you will experience serious benefits.
5. Intermittent Fasting
By abstaining from food for designated periods, you build self-discipline and strengthen your mental resilience, learning to overcome cravings and temptations.
It is also a great thing to practice before having to do a proper weight cut
Try to give yourself an 8-hour eating window and remain fasting for the other 16 hours
Be sure to drink plenty of water as it can help with cravings and prevent dehydration
6. Workout Without Music
Break away from your usual workout routine and try exercising without music or external distractions.
This exercise forces you to rely solely on your inner drive and mental strength, enhancing your focus, determination, and ability to push through fatigue
This will definitely come in handy when you are in the ring because you wont have anything other than your inner drive to motivate you
7. Do Something You Don't Want to Do
Although all of the physical changes above help build mental toughness for boxing.
There are thousands of different methods for everyone and what they all have in common is
Its things you dont want to do
So find something you can't stand doing
And force yourself to push through and complete it for whatever the reward might be(make sure it will benefit you, dont do anything stupid or morally wrong).
Incorporating these exercises into your routine will gradually develop your mental toughness, enabling you to conquer obstacles, stay resilient, and excel in all areas in and outside of boxing.
Remember, true growth happens outside of your comfort zone, and building mental toughness is a journey worth pursuing, especially in boxing.
3 Examples of Benefits Outside of Boxing
Developing mental toughness in boxing cultivates a deep sense of self-belief and confidence that extends beyond the ring.
This newfound confidence permeates other areas of life, allowing you to tackle challenges head-on and pursue your goals with zero doubt and unmatched determination.
2. Increased Productivity
Mental toughness breeds discipline, focus, and resilience, which are invaluable traits in any endeavor.
The ability to stay committed, push through obstacles, maintain productivity,
Even when faced with adversity, enables you to achieve maximum success in all areas of your life.
3. Respect from Others
When others witness your unmatched dedication and mental fortitude,
They see the value that has and naturally develop a deep respect for you.
Your ability to conquer challenges and persist in difficult situations is inspiring and motivates those around you.
Mental toughness is a powerful and crucial attribute to enables athletes to thrive in the face of adversity, challenges, and pressure.
In boxing, it plays a pivotal role in achieving victory by allowing athletes to remain focused, composed, and adaptable in and outside of the ring.
By cultivating mental toughness through self-accountability, recognizing sacrifices, and understanding their “why”,
Boxers can enhance their performance and push through the inevitable feeling of wanting to quit.
But the benefits of mental toughness extend beyond the boxing ring, with increased confidence, productivity, and the respect of others being among the rewards.
It is also important to remember that mental toughness is only 1 key aspect of boxing. If you are new to boxing and would like an overall guide Click Here to find…
“THE 10 FUNDAMENTAL COMPONENTS OF BOXING”
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