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Muay Thai

Preparing For Competition

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Preparing For Competition

The biggest battle is before the fight!

How do you reach the correct state of mind for competition?

Battling pre fight nerves

Straight away some of you have an answer in your head, right? Well the answer isn’t the same for everyone - everyone is different and deals with stresses differently when preparing for a competition.

Some competitors may prefer their coaches to be all <shouting> ‘come on, you are the best, you rock, you are going to destroy them, you have to do this, you were born to do this, give it your all!’ and so on. Some may prefer calm, yet reassuring comments, more specific to technique and game plan. There are limitless approaches to this and ultimately it’s the battles going on in the fighter’s head, certainly for the first few competitions, which are the biggest. Some competitors don’t get past this stage and lose before they even step into the ring.

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win” 
― Sun TzuThe Art of War

To ensure that you can win is by ensuring you are as fit as you can be, meaning quality training prep, particularly with regards to cardio. Fitness is often one of the biggest and most common causes of failure, so if you nail this, the rest will seem significantly more comfortable. The next is being realistic and honest with yourself;  Ask yourself, "am I capable?" If the answer is yes, progress things further. 

The next step is making that definition between the use of the 'should' and 'could' in the statements you make. How many times have you said to yourself 'I should win this' or 'I should have won that' or 'I should be able to lose weight'? Most people have found themselves saying this but actually 'could' is a much more positive and hopeful word to use. Using 'should' is putting unfair and unrealistic pressure on yourself. It really isn't helpful, and many neuropsychological and cognitive behavioural studies have shown this over the years.

So to say 'I could win this' shows that you are capable and more importantly that you are prepared to give 100%. Or if after a loss 'I could have won that' (providing you are being honest in your own assessment) shows that maybe you didn't give 100% and that next time you know how you can improve.

Maybe this comes as a surprise, but 100% IS AS MUCH AS YOU ARE ABLE TO GIVE!!!! Forget what you hear footballers say and the rubbish spoken on talent shows, you cannot do better than your best, FULL STOP!

Placing unfair pressure on yourself will potentially set you on the road to ruin, maybe not now but in the future. By all means give it your all, in fact, make sure you do, because win, lose or draw you will be satisfied that you put everything into it. Sometimes people are just better and eventual losses are pretty much inevitable and a reality of life, why would it be any different when competing?

Lack of fitness or strength or lack of technique or skill compared to your opponents are all areas that a competitor can choose to work at and improve on, and mental training and preparation will be the glue that holds it all together.

A great source for helping you to deal with mental preparation not only in competition but also in life generally, is a book called 'The Chimp Paradox', from a very well-respected and world renowned psychiatrist; Professor Steve Peters. Steve is a consultant to the British Cycling Team, Sky ProCycling, Liverpool Football club and UK athletics as well as working with other Olympic and non-Olympic sports. Both Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton say that Prof Steve Peters helped them to win gold. Ronnie O'Sullivan worked with Steve in the run up to his 4th and 5th World Snooker titles. It is well worth a read and considering the techniques he recommends.

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Let's get functional

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Let's get functional

Functional Movement is King!

We have all been at that stage in our chosen sport, particularly with regards to combat sports and martial arts, where we ask our teacher or trainer ‘how do I get stronger and fitter?’

The answer to this question isn’t as broad as you might think; it can refer to very a specific set of skills, depending on which sport they are training for. So, for instance; Muay Thai – ‘I want to kick, knee or elbow harder or faster or be stronger in the Thai clinch’. BJJ – ‘be more explosive with sweeps and takedowns or have stronger jiu-jitsu or judo grips’.

The answer is rarely going to be ‘go and lift some weights and go running’- I think we all know that, however, it’s probably not going to be a one-size-fits-all approach either.

We all have things we are good at and areas we are faster or stronger in. On the flip-side, we all have areas we are weaker or slower in. Using functional strength and cardio training specific to your sport or martial art is key. A simple example being rope climbing to improve upper body and grip for BJJ or plyometric box jumps for explosiveness in legs for kicks - that kind of thing.

Use your time wisely...

‘You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again’

- Benjamin Franklin

 

One thing that is constant for all of us is that we only have a limited amount of time each day. Time for any of us as individuals is not infinite (unless you know something we don’t). We have to take the time we do have and plan it wisely, specifically with regards to strength, cardio and your chosen sport.

Without proper planning or preparation, you could end up making things harder for yourself in the short term and therefore in the long run, too. For instance, you could be too tired from strength training exercises to be able to perform well in your chosen sport.

You may have had a heavy weights session on your legs, turn up to a Muay Thai class the next night and wince every time you kick a bag or take a light shot to the leg. This will surely hinder your performance and slow you right down, so allowing for rest time is vital to any successful training schedule. A key thing to keep in mind is that rest doesn’t have to be resting your whole body, just specific muscle groups.

Putting together your own training schedule can be quite difficult without support, however if you don’t have support, do give it a try for yourself as some planning is better than none!

If you do want some advice don’t hesitate to speak to someone at the gym and we can talk you through the first steps and put together a plan for you.

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