On the surface, boxing may look like a very simple combat sport. You use your hands to inflict damage on your opponent with punches, combinations, and play defense with head movement. Though the mechanics seem simple enough, in actuality, there is a degree of intricacy in its practice.
Aside from the usual offense and defense, boxing involves a lot of tactical warfare and strategy. Various styles play into others, contradict each other, or match up very well. One key aspect that usually decides victory is strategy.
Strategy plays a very important role in boxing because it allows boxers to put themselves in the position of imposing their will onto their opponents. Simply executing combinations is not enough, boxers have to set up their offense in order to obtain optimum results.
Perhaps you have been training in boxing for a while, and have now gotten used to the basics and the fundamentals. The next step for you as a boxer would be to incorporate strategy into your game.
Let’s take a look at why you need to learn strategy in the ring, why it’s so helpful to your game, and how you can gain the advantage over your opponents. Today, Evolve Daily shares four reasons why strategy is one of the most important aspects of boxing.
1) It Brings Method to the Madness
Without strategy, boxing is just two guys wailing at each other with no abandon. The first one to go down is finished. But they don’t call boxing ‘The Sweet Science’ for nothing. Boxing is as tactical as a combat sport can get.
Strategy brings method to the madness. It makes seemingly simple combinations incredibly intricate and well-thought out. Each micro movement has a purpose, whether that’s to bait an opponent into overcommitting on an attack so you can counter, or using your ring generalship to maneuver a foe into the corner.
The absence of strategy in a fight usually means the inevitability of failure. The next time you’re in a sparring session, or even when you’re training alone and just shadow boxing, try to keep in mind your strategic plays. Try to read your opponent’s moves and develop tactics in reaction to that.
As a rule of thumb, you should play to your strengths and avoid your weaknesses, all while aiming to exploit your opponent’s defensive lapses.
2) A Great Game Plan Can Win Fights
At the advanced stages of boxing, strategy is what makes or breaks a fight. It often spells the difference between two boxers at the elite level. Game Plans are built by studying an opponent beforehand. If tape is available, you should be watching every one of your opponent’s movements and looking for certain habits you can take advantage of.
Look over footage with your coach. Develop a sound strategy and a pathway to success. Practice these strategies in sparring or during mitt work. A great gameplan can deliver you victory.
More often than not, the fighter with the better gameplan prevails. But gameplans aren’t just built before fights, they can also be tweaked and adjusted mid-fight. In fact, a telltale quality of a good fighter is one who can make adjustments in between rounds.
Perhaps you are getting hit too much with the right hand, then use your feet to circle away from your opponent’s most powerful punches. Time your opponent as he comes in by taking note of his feet when he goes in for a combination.
These are the slight adjustments you can make to ensure victory.
3) Styles Make Fights
Every fighter has strengths and weaknesses. By employing a good fight strategy, you can mask your weaknesses and not allow your opponents to take advantage of them.
A good strategy plays to your strengths while avoiding your weaknesses. In boxing, there’s an age-old adage that says, ‘Styles make fights’. What this means is that each fighter has a unique and distinct fighting style, and depending on an opponent’s style, the pairing can produce varied results.
The winner of a match is often the boxer who can impose his/her will over an opponent. This means making sure your style reigns supreme. If you’re an aggressive volume puncher, make sure you are the one moving forward and on attack mode. If you’re a counterpuncher, let your opponent come to you as you lay back and pick them apart.
Whatever your style is, aim to fight at your pace, and not at your opponents’. The moment you are out of rhythm, your opponent will capitalize. Use your intelligence and strategy to make sure your style is the dominant one in a match.
4) Coaching Makes a Difference at the Highest Level
Last but not least, strategy is important in boxing because it’s the difference-maker at the highest level. The greatest boxers in history employed unique fight-winning strategies that brought them incredible and memorable victories.
From Muhammad Ali’s “Rope-a-Dope” strategy to Wladimir Klitschko’s masterful use of the jab, strategies have been the story of every high-level boxing match.
At the elite level of competition, strategies are what bring victory and defeat. That is why every professional boxer prioritizes investing in a good coach/trainer — someone in their corner, a trusted voice, to help them dissect an opponent and figure out a way to beat them.
Legendary trainers like Freddie Roach, Angelo Dundee, and Teddy Atlas — these men have shaped some of boxing’s greatest talents into the stars that they are today and have become. It is because of their fight strategies that their wards have experienced so much success.