Fight with your mind— focus is everything!

How do you stay focussed during an MMA fight? With all the lights, cheering, and distractions, it can be tough. Whether you’re into competitive fighting, curious about a fighter’s mindset or just want to amp up your workout, here are some things you can do to stay focussed and get the most out of your hard-earned skills.

Plan ahead

MMA is like a violent chess match, and you should never enter the octagon without a plan. Mental preparation is about building a match strategy and confidence. Whether in a fight or a workout, having a plan keeps you focused.

  • Execute first. Establish your game plan early in the fight, before your opponent can implement their own strategy. Make them fight you on your terms.
  • Be ready to improvise. Plans may not always work; stay focused and find a new approach.
  • Keep answering questions. Every move your opponent makes is a question; answering them keeps you in the game. Just be aware that experienced fighters will ask questions and expect a standard answer, to which they might respond with a surprising move. Get in with a creative, unexpected answer whenever you can, and, as per the above, avoid patterns that are easy for your opponent to identify and combat.
  • Visualise always powering ahead like an unstoppable steamroller, yet maintaining small body and head movements to make it hard for your opponent to land hits.

Think (whenever you have time)

MMA is a mix of trained reflexes and conscious thought. While the instinct to rely solely on reflexes might be tempting, it comes at a cost. Reflexes are predictable, and a skilled opponent can capitalize on patterns. Here are some tips to stay present and focused:

  • Keep your breathing steady. Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth to maintain oxygen supply to your brain.
  • Focus on your opponent’s movements. Try to understand their strategy.
  • At times when you start feeling stressed or distracted, keep your upper body relaxed and lean into your instincts. If you've trained well, your reflexes will be there when needed.

Learn to listen

Your coach will shout louder than any fan, so tune your ears to their voice. But don’t just register what they’re saying—you need to understand and take ownership of it. So, pay attention. Listen. Your coach is talking for a reason, and has the benefit of being able to watch you from a distance (and without risking being hit at any time). Learn to listen and consider everything said whilst you’re in the thick of the action. And, aside from technical advice, soak up the emotional support and motivation. Your coach might remind you of fighting for something you’d be willing to die for. Go in with that image (but make sure that both you and your opponent still walk away alive, ok?). When all is said and done, you’ll just want to know that you truly did your best.

Avoid distractions at all costs

It should go without saying: the polar opposite to focus is distraction. But many fighters still let themselves becomes distracted, whether it be by their opponent’s intentional feints or the busy environment. Little niggles are another common issue. Work them out during sparring and training. If there’s anything that bothers you, identify the problem and work out a solution well ahead of your match (this is really how lobloo’s bionic athletic cups came to be—our founder was so annoyed and distrustful of traditional athletic cups, he decided to do something about it).

Apply yourself—always

Staying focussed is about motivation and willpower. It’s a skill that takes practice. Remember: neurons that fire together wire together—whatever you do many times will become an ingrained habit. Your brain, just like the rest of your body, will change and become part of you, the fighting machine. Make sure that retaining focus is an integral to that machine. Don’t go lax just because you’re sparring. When you’re on, you’re on.

That’s fighting focus.

 

Paul Walden
lobloo Research & Development

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