5 Tips for Dealing with Ring Performance Anxiety

Recently, I received correspondence from a young boxer. He is having difficulty applying the skills developed in the gym to sparring and competition, due to excessive nerves and anxiety prior to stepping into the ring.

This feeling of anxiety is caused by adrenaline being produced in the body by the adrenal glands. It plays an important role in the fight-or-flight response from perceived threats by increasing blood flow to muscles, maximizing output of the heart, pupil dilation response, and spike in blood sugar level.

This energy or adrenaline rush heightens our state of alertness along with improving reaction time to either escape from a threat or fight back. The downside effects are that the body is being fatigued and lethargic accompanied with a feeling of nausea when this rush wears off.

The following steps can assist overcoming anxiety before sparring sessions and competition. This takes time depending on the boxer’s ability, development of skillset and demonstrated self-confidence.

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3 Types of Boxing Sparring for Developing Fighters

Sparring is important in the preparation for a competitive boxer in gaining confidence to apply technical and tactical skills in a controlled, supervised environment.

Prior to a session many rounds would have been spent on focus mitts training with the coach, developing offensive and defensive skills. It is practical in bringing a sense of realism to training, and assess the boxer’s ability to perform set offensive and defensive tasks under pressure, and identify any problem areas that need correcting.

There are 3 types of sparring:

1. Technical
2. Conditional
3. Open (Full Contact)

The type is determined by the coach, depending on the training program phase and ability of the boxer. Use a mouthguard (gum shield) and wear heavier well-padded gloves up to 16oz in weight. Headgear is worn when undertaking conditional sparring, in order to get used to the bulky, tight fitting and restrictive feel of the equipment.

1. Technical

Technical sparring are pre-set partner drills supervised by the coach, training objective is developing technique and improving reaction time not endurance or punching power.

For example: The first boxer will commence the drill with a jab, the second boxer will defend and counter jab. This training will perfect technique without pressure and develop the boxer in reading an oncoming punch without panicking.

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6 Tips How to Improve Infighting Skills

To dominate your opponent effectively from the inside position is better known as ‘infighting’. This will not influence the judges’ scoring a round. This demonstrates the boxer’s ability of fighting at long range for a taller rangy style boxer, and medium to close range for a shorter boxer.

Infighting is effective when boxers are of similar height and shorter height. To take the inside position a boxer must either:

  • Set up an attack to close the distance with opponent using similar combinations such as jab, cross and hook to head or body to gain the inside position.
  • Make opponent punch using tactics such as the feint to draw the opponent to attack then slip opponent’s punch and target their midsection with short Hooks and Uppercuts, switching their attack to the head.

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