The Flow State
Boxing places a unique combination of pressure and stresses on participants. The combination of physical and mental aptitude is key at the highest level of any sport, but the combination of mental strength, composure under pressure and supreme physical conditioning required to succeed is unrivalled by any other sport.
Pre-performance nerves are natural and commonplace, as your body enlivens your senses and prepares you for combat, when the threat of being hurt becomes very real. Preparation is the bedrock of confidence. If you are prepared both mentally and physically, this will mitigate your performance anxiety and your confidence will help you to retain your composure.
Both sparring and competing in the ring is aggressive and it involves an acute level of focus, impulse control and mood regulation to maximise your performance. In boxing, adrenaline-induced arousal must be controlled at an optimal level to react to arising opportunities in attack, while blocking or avoiding an attacker. Control of emotions is crucial to maintaining optimal levels of arousal and alertness. Combining emotions while also triggering false anticipation in your opponent’s reactions are what makes a “smart fighter”.
None of this is possible without a quiet mind and this is where the flow-state manifests. When the mind is quiet, cautions, fear, doubt, controls, blocks, reservations and self-criticism cease. Under the intensity of competition, the body follows the mind in the immediacy of the moment. The one-ness of body and mind aligned is where your performance potential lies. Instinct is uninhibited.
The flow state is something we all recognise. On a good day, when your speed, reactions and power seem to be perfectly harmonised, we revel in our ability to perform. We are free from pressure and our body responds instinctively. So we must learn to perform under pressure with the same freedom and composure as you do in training. The simplest way to achieve this is to prioritise giving your all as opposed to striving for the performance outcome. The more we trust ourselves, we more we retain a sense of control and we can control how much effort we make. The more we focus on maximising our efforts, the less that fear will interfere with your performance and the higher the odds you will achieve the desired outcome.
With body and mind aligned, you can empower your limits, illuminate your potential and realise the power of one.