Stepping into the Ring: A Female Fighter’s Guide to Mental Preparation | Awakening Fighters

Stepping into the Ring: A Female Fighter’s Guide to Mental Preparation

by Rew MitchellPosted on
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Photo Credit: Dan Burton on Unsplash

A lot is made about the physical training and preparation that fighters undertake to get in the best shape for a bout. We’ll often hear about their diets, gruelling gym sessions, and strict workout regimes that their trainers are putting them through.

But mental preparation is just as important as physical training. It's about crafting a mindset as strong as your punches and as sharp as your kicks. If this is an area you need to work on, here are some steps you can take.

Know the Arena: Mastering the Rules

The first step to mental dominance is mastering the rules. This isn't just about knowing the basics, you should dig deeper. Understand scoring criteria, clinch breaks, and fouls and look at how you can use them to your advantage.

Can you incorporate strategic clinches to tire out your opponent or use specific footwork to force them into illegal territory?

Knowledge is power. The more you understand the rules, the more you can manipulate them to tilt the fight in your favor.

This isn’t unique to combat sports, we see it in all sports. In Formula 1, seven-time world champion, Michael Schumacher, was known for pushing the boundaries of the rules. For example, in 1998, the German driver was awarded a penalty but chose to serve it on the final lap since this meant he would not actually have to stop for the penalty. His intimate knowledge of the rulebook allowed him to spot an opportunity to win.

Poker is another sport where it can be hugely advantageous to have a strong knowledge of the rulebook. When starting out in the game, it’s important to know the basics of poker rules, such as hand rankings and the different rounds of the game.

However, other rules can be used strategically to your advantage, for example, if you understand what the minimum allowed reraise is in no-limit games, you can add more to the pot without spooking your opponents. Doing so drives them to call and increases the size of your potential win.

Unleashing Your Inner Warrior: Building Confidence

All fighters feel pre-fight anxiety. It's your body's natural response to a high-pressure situation. If you let it get to you, it can bring on failure but if you can harness it, you can channel this energy to improve your focus and effectiveness. The key ways to do this are:

Positive affirmations: Repeat mantras like "I am strong," "I am prepared," and "I will win." It might sound simple, but self-belief is a force multiplier.
● Visualization: Imagine yourself performing flawlessly, dodging your opponent's attacks, and landing clean blows. By mentally rehearsing success, you prime your mind for victory.
● Power music: Create a fight playlist that pumps you up. Blast it before training, during your walkout, or anytime you need a surge of confidence.

Remember, confidence isn't about arrogance. It's about trusting your training, your skills, and your ability to adapt.

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Photo Credit: John Arano on Unsplash

Focus Like a Laser: Controlling What You Can

Fight night is full of unknowns. Your opponent might surprise you, the crowd might be deafening, or your strategy might need adjustments. But here's the good news: you can control your reaction to these variables.

● Stay present: Don't dwell on past mistakes or worry about the future. Focus on the current moment, the next move, the next breath. Mindfulness techniques like deep breathing can help you stay grounded in the present.
● Let go of negativity: Self-doubt and negative thoughts are energy drainers. Acknowledge them, then dismiss them. Replace them with positive affirmations or visualize a calming image.
● Embrace the flow: Things might not go exactly according to plan. That's okay. Be adaptable. Use your training to react instinctively and seize new opportunities to beat your opponent.

By focusing on what you can control, you stay in charge, even when the fight gets chaotic.

Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses

Just like you, your opponent has a story; they have strengths and weaknesses. Here's how to exploit that:

● Scout your opponent: Watch their previous fights. Analyze their style, tendencies, and any technical flaws that may creep into their technique
● Identify your strengths: Think about what you are best at. Is it powerful kicks, or maybe deceptive footwork? Play to those strengths and use them to exploit your opponent's weaknesses.
● Develop a personalized game plan: Don't just mimic past victories. Craft a strategy based on your strengths and your opponent's weaknesses.

Remember, the best fighters aren't just strong; they're strategic thinkers. Use your knowledge of your opponent to create a personalized path to victory.
Mental preparation is a journey, not a destination. Embrace the pre-fight jitters, transform them into fight fire, and step into the ring with unwavering confidence.

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