I enjoy hearing the thoughts of others about boxing, life, politics and humanity. I’ve had some terrific conversations with open gym member, Mike and recently another gym member Conlin posted about conceptualizing mental athleticism and mental stability. This blog is inspired from both experiences! Thanks guys!
We as a society give up our autonomy for convenience. We are wary of freedom and the unknown, opting for safety and comfort. Boxing, however, forces you to relinquish this false idea of safety and makes you give in to fear, to embrace fear and to move through fear. Boxing makes you abandon convenience and asks you to earn each step you take.
In order to be able to succeed, one must be mentally fit just as much as they are physically fit. I’m seeing this also as applicable to myself as a coach. All of us in boxing training must strive for awareness in its highest form- we must take responsibility for our actions and outcomes so we may improve in future interactions. I find this way of living to be imperative in daily life as well. Awareness equals Mental Health Fitness.
As an example: In the past, I don’t think I did enough as a coach to prevent overtraining and burnout. I think my own tendency to push ridiculously hard and be relentless is a good skill, but just like punches, it’s not good to go at the same pace, power and rhythm all the time. My own interpretation of training and desire to push overrode the boxers’ experience. So, I began experiencing boxers who felt burnt out. I errantly thought the answer would be to fix overtraining and schedule time off. I really thought doing the opposite of overtraining would fix my problem of burnout. Time off has increased body health in recovery and continuing interest in training. I wasn’t prepared for the fact that the boxers also need to have strong mental health fitness to be in shape for living without the gym everyday. I know every boxer is different, but so far I am seeing a trend where it is almost more difficult to have time off and away than it is to overtrain.
I love this conundrum. I think the lesson I’m learning most is that rhythm change is important…..but sometimes it has to be more subtle otherwise we expose too big of an opening within ourselves in the new rhythm.
Without risk and attempts, we cannot learn anything new. We have to practice how we respond to the outcomes of our risks and attempts. This continued practice strengthens mental health fitness. This kind of practice encourages curiosity and learning. Increasing awareness allows for each decision to have validity and purpose no matter the outcome. This is after all what we want from the fighter in the ring. We want them to throw punches and not be invested in the outcome….rather we want them to continue to throw punches, to exploit patterns and take advantage of errors until the bell rings or the referee steps in.
I could have immediately reacted to the realization that time off is harder than overtraining and made another really different decision, but this time, I’m more curious. I’m interested in exercising my strength in curiosity. I’m interested in the boxer’s perspective and how these rhythm changes benefit and deter them. I’m interested in increasing my mental health fitness.
If you live your life more like you are in the ring, you will be astonished at what you learn and the calm confidence you can obtain no matter the experience.
As always: BoxOn!