Humans are animals, and one of the instincts we are born with is the fight-or-flight response. When something threatens our safety – a thief approaching us with a knife or a snarling wild dog – our bodies quickly and instinctively respond to that threat. We start to release adrenaline, our heart rate increases, and our pupils grow wider. We harness the resources we need to eliminate the danger (FIGHT) or run away (FLIGHT).
Suppose you have been boxing long enough to start sparring or even competing. In that case, this response will already be very familiar to you. After all, the person standing in the other corner waiting to punch you in the face will threaten your safety if you haven’t built up the skills you need to defend yourself!
When we encounter a threat in the wild or on the streets, it is often a more intelligent move to run away. However, if you choose to be in a boxing bout, you have already decided that you want to fight. You should have trained hard, and (hopefully) you are confident in your skills and abilities. You want to use all your strength and endurance for fight and not flight in the ring. And yet, as a coach, I see the opposite happening all the time!
“Flight” in the ring does not always mean running away from your opponent. Here’s an example, some fighters are excellent at counterpunching drills but hardly land their counters at sparring – not because of their skill, but because they are too afraid to mistime them and get hit. In the instant that they must choose to counterpunch or defend, they defend because it is safer. They choose flight over fight.
Here’s another one. You’re fighting a formidable opponent and take a hard shot to the body in the first round. Instead of shaking it off and going back to the game plan, you let that affect you and spend the next rounds focusing on how hard your opponent hits. Your mind has gone into flight mode (being afraid of your opponent) rather than fight mode (how to take out the threat).
In boxing, as much of your energy as possible should be going towards fight and not flight. So how do you achieve that? Here are a few tips.
#1 Trust Your Training
If you train regularly, you will enter your sparring session with the confidence to choose fight over flight. Your body will have the instincts to execute your game plan no matter what else happens. One of the most common reasons for being afraid to engage your opponent in the ring is that you have not spent enough time on the mitts and the bags.
#2: Don’t Spar On Autopilot
Be aware of the thoughts that you have while sparring. Suppose you have a good sparring partner (like all our Renegade members!). In that case, you shouldn’t be afraid of getting hurt, so use those sessions as an opportunity to train your mind and body. Replace those fearful thoughts with positive ones – confidence in your ability, and a winning mindset.
#3: Be Someone Your Opponent Fears
Finally, there’s no better way to dominate in boxing than to be the one who puts your opponent in flight mode. And at the risk of repeating myself, the way to do that is to be a beast in training. The harder you work in the gym, the more confident you will be in the ring, and the more likely it will be that your opponent will end up fearing you.
At Renegade, we train your mind and body so that when you lace on those gloves, you are prepared for fight and not flight. Gain the psychological edge as you progress in your boxing journey with purpose.