Combat sports like Boxing, Muay Thai, and Kickboxing are more cerebral than most people think. Yes, physical attributes like power, speed, and explosiveness go a long way, but what happens when these things cancel out? That’s when mental attributes like heart, fighting IQ, and ring generalship come in. The fighter who makes the most intelligent decisions often emerges victorious when physical attributes and fighting skills cancel out.
There are many little tricks fighters use to give themselves an advantage in competitive settings. We’ll break down some of the most useful ones to give you an edge during your fights.
Ten Tips To Improve Your Performance As A Fighter
Ready to learn some fighting tips? Let’s jump right into our list:
1) Focus On The Task At Hand
Your mind should be solely focused on what you have to do during your fights. Worrying about irrelevant things like not getting knockout or losing doesn’t serve any purpose, and it distracts you from your main mission.
Talk to any successful combat sports athlete and they’ll be the first to let you know that thinking about things you’re not in control of during a fight is pointless. Instead, move, attack, and defend just as you’ve been trained to do. Don’t allow your mind to drift into the irrelevant.
2) Commit To Fighting
You’re inside a ring or cage to fight so commit to that mentality for the entire duration. You should never have a wait-and-see approach to fighting. That might lead to you second-guessing yourself and increases your odds of defeat.
It’s okay to be smart and cautious during your fights, just like it’s okay to observe opponents. Just make sure you commit to the one thing you and your opponent both came to do: fight.
Make it a habit to breathe whenever you block, slip, or move away from a punch. Breathe when you’re on the defensive to make the most out of the “rest” period. Take controlled breaths and take advantage of your limited activity.
4) Exhale After Each Strike
If you’ve ever observed professional fighters training or fighting, it’s hard to miss the fact they exhale after throwing each strike. Taking a breath with each strike you throw makes you more powerful and faster, it also helps you to save energy and establish your rhythm. It ensures you’re breathing properly during your fights. You don’t have to scream “kia” or grunt loudly as many fighters do, but you should exhale during every strike to throw.
5) Drive Your Elbows Into Your Punches
Proper wrist placement isn’t enough to make your punches powerful. You also have to keep your elbow in the proper position to maximize the power behind your punches. A simple way to do this is by driving and snapping your elbow into any type of punch you throw. This ensures you throw the punch with proper form. Not properly supporting your wrists with the placement of your elbows significantly diminishes the power behind your punches.
6) Avoid Running And Walk
Running and jumping around the place uses up lots of energy so try to avoid doing too much of either. Instead, you want to walk and move around your opponent without using up so much energy. You can still effortlessly move in and out of range without having to run. Observe high-level fighters and you’ll notice they don’t waste energy by running toward or away from their opponents. All footwork movements used by fighters can be performed while walking.
7) Always Keep Your Eyes On Your Opponent
You should always keep an eye on your opponents during your fights. Don’t duck so low you can’t see their heads or chests and look to clinch up when you lose sight of your opponent, especially if they’re swinging wildly. Also, don’t close your eyes when punches come your way since that limits your ability to defend yourself.
8) Move Away From Your Opponent’s Power
You’ve probably heard a fighter’s corner yelling at them to circle to the right while watching fights. That’s because most fighters are right-handed, so they fight out of the orthodox stance. That means fighters generally want to circle to their right (their opponent’s left), moving away from their stronger right arm.
You’ll have to circle to the left (toward your opponent’s right) if your opponent is left-handed. Moving away from your opponent’s power hand significantly limits their opportunities to hurt you with it. You should always study your opponents before your fights so you know which hand is their power hand. Some boxers fight equally well out of both stances, so don’t assume which arm is a fighter’s strong arm based on their stance alone.
9) Make Your Opponent Carry Your Weight
Here’s a tactic many fighters use to wear out their opponents. Inexperienced opponents might even tire themselves out by throwing punches with no leverage in clinch positions. However, many striking sports like Boxing don’t allow you to stay in the clinch all night. You’ll need to stay busy with some dirty boxing to keep the referee from breaking you up. Heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury’s second and third fights against Deontay Wilder are excellent examples of how to wear down opponents by leaning on them.
Sports like Muay Thai allow you to work in the clinch all night long so use it to your advantage. Even pulling on an opponent’s neck in the Muay Thai plum forces them to carry extra weight.
10) Use Feints
You won’t get very far in striking sports if you don’t use any feints. You wouldn’t get that far in regular sports like basketball and football either. A feint is a deceptive movement or strike that makes your opponent think you plan to do one thing, while you really have something else in mind.
Deception is a part of all sports, from a basketball player pump faking an opponent so they jump up in the air, to a football player looking in one direction and passing the ball to a player in the opposite direction.
In fighting sports, feints are what create openings for you to exploit. For example, you can feint a punch to the head, when you really plan to throw one at the body. As a general rule, try to throw more feints than strikes during your fights to keep opponents constantly guessing.
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