“Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training”
This quote has been cited and reinterpreted many times but the key point has always been the same. You will not heroically draw upon some hidden strength; there will be no sudden surge of power under the immense (physical and mental) pain. There won’t be a grand hurrah nor mythical bells inspiring a blood rush to your vital organs. No chorus singing as you reach a higher state of being. Instead there will be pain, breathlessness and fatigue. Whether you keep trying to find a way to win, or simply fight to stay alive, will attest to your level of training and preparation. It’s open for debate just how large a percentage mental fortitude and strength plays but there is not doubt it cannot be neglected in your planning and execution of a fight.
There will be occasions when the mind will break before the body ever starts failing. There is no politically correct way of saying that competitive boxing isn’t for everyone. Boxing, learning techniques and practicing it on pads or a bag, those are things I recommend to everyone and anyone regardless of their goals. But to compete is a whole different animal. You don’t play boxing. You box, to win. There is nothing enjoyable about being beat up for rounds, getting countered for every punch you throw or sitting on your stool at the end of a round knowing you have many more rounds to go. Winning is everything. It doesn’t matter if you or your trainers or anyone else believed you won. If you’re handed the L, there will be nothing but a bitter taste in your mouth
Athletes often have 2 brains when taking part in their given sport. The training brain and the competition brain, working together to deliver results. The training brain goes through the motions, practices the moves and even executes them at a high level. But what can be missed during this type of training is developing the ability to handle pressure and build mental fortitude. The attitude that “this is training and I don’t have to go at a 100 percent” only serves to create a disparity between training and actual competition. Developing the mental approach that every training session counts, every repetition or every minute of it matters is key to building competition mentality.
Be sharp and never get complacent. Find comfort in being uncomfortable. The winner of a fight is never set in stone, regardless of what anyone tells you. You will be told they can’t touch you and its an easy W or that this fight is impossible to win and you should just do your best to put up a “good” fight”. Words are just that, words, and in boxing a punch solves a lot of those.
Till next time! – AJ