Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mental Training Part I

I played hockey throughout my childhood and teenage years; I was a goalie.  The main reason I became a goalie was because I was one of the worst players and slowest skaters on my team, and becoming a goalie was my attempt at getting some glory out of hockey as long as I was playing it.  Fortunately for me, I was a pretty damn good goalie.  Although I wasn't athletically blessed with speed or natural ability, I was blessed with two things: quick reaction and good awareness, both of which are essential to boxing.

In my last few years playing goalie, I came upon a book at my local library called Basketball FundaMENTALS which outlined the core concepts and benefits of mental training for sports.  I incorporated the ideas into my practice, then made a some adaptations and saw huge improvements in my game!  Since then, I've read dozens of books on mental training for sports and I've created my own template for boxing. I would like to share the framework with you.

I can't tell you how many people I've fought or sparred who could kick my ass in a 40 yrd dash.  Most of my opponents have been taller, stronger, and faster.  If you're not blessed with raw speed, then you can definitely make up for it with quick reaction, sound defense, and scenario based training.  But the key is to be able to 'read the play', see what's going on, and have these skills embedded in your mind and in your boxing repertoire.  Of course, you do need the essential skills i.e. how to block a left hook, how to slip a right hand etc. I'm going to assume you have these skills.  If you don't, then write me and we can talk.

When I talk about mental training, I am referring to how your mind responds to external stimuli such as a kick or a punch or a takedown attempt.  There are other aspects to mental training such as mental toughness, confidence and composure under pressure, all of which are related to how you respond physically but will be covered in another post.  Essentially, with mental training, you are creating movies in your mind.  The clearer they are the better, the more you can control and manipulate them the better, the more senses (touch, sound) you can incorporate the better.

In the next post I'll lay out the framework for how to create mental movies, and how to organize your mental training.

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