Is Your Head Preventing You From Becoming a Champion?
So what kind of a head do you have on your shoulders? Are you fighting and competing at the level that you’re capable of? Do you regularly perform better in practice bouts than at tournaments? Are there particular opponents who you consistently lose to who have no business beating you? Do fears and self-doubts paralyze you and prevent you from fighting to your potential. Are you the kind of athlete who regularly steals defeat from the closing jaws of victory?
If some of these questions bother you, then you probably already know how critically important the mental part of your sport is. If you want to take your performance to the next level, then you have to be willing to take your training far beyond where most martial artists stop. Most serious athletes in this sport religiously work on the physical part of the sport. They’ll work on their strength, fitness and quickness. They’ll work on their kicks, punches. blocks, holds and take-downs. Is this stuff important? You betcha! You can’t become successful without “paying your physical dues” in this way. Hard work is definitely one of the main keys to your success in the ring. Without it, you’ll quickly lose.
Unfortunately, this is where most good martial artists stop. When they go into their matches, they hope they’ll perform well, they hope that they’ll have their “A” game with them today, they hope that they’ll win. You would never leave your conditioning or fighting technique to chance. i.e. “I hope I’m in good shape today.” So why would you leave the most important part of your fighting, the mental side to chance?
Think about this: Getting good as a fighter in practice is 95% physical and 5% mental. Translation: You have to work hard on your conditioning and “physical game” to make it happen. However, once you step onto that floor for a match, the percentages flip flop. Being successful is 95% mental and 5% physical. You have the conditioning, technique and fight strategy, now you have to make sure that you stay calm under pressure and keep yourself focused on the right things. For example, your concentration needs to stay in the moment, on executing this technique and this technique only. If you let your mind jump ahead to the future, (i.e. thinking about winning or losing) or slip back to the past (i.e. a previous point or bout), then you’ll end up getting yourself too uptight and distracted to perform to your potential. This means that you have to be able to rebound quickly from your mistakes and not carry them into the next round or bout.
You have to believe in yourself and have the self-confidence to fight your own fight, rather than your opponent’s when you’re under pressure. You have to be able to handle last minute negativity and self-doubts. You have to be able to master your fears.
With a little work, these mental skills as well as a few important others can be systematically trained to the point where you develop the reputation as a mentally tough fighter.