If you want to know how to get good at Muay Thai fast…

Here I share my Muay Thai performance coaching principles – that’ll not only reduce how long it takes to get good at Muay Thai, but also sustain consistent improvement year on year too.

In every session, the objective is to make you better, not just tired.

This means first building a foundation of quality movement skills, becoming technically better…

Then building the capacity to maintain this technique at higher levels of speed, power, strength, and endurance.

But movement comes first. Your technical quality. Your habits.

Habits are what make or break you as a fighter – they’re everything.

They’re the instinctive, automatic movement motor patterns that you’ve banked over the years – that you can trust to fire without thinking.

And it’s worth reminding you at this stage, about Dr. Schmidt’s classic statement on motor learning…

Learn: It takes 300 – 500 repetitions to learn a new pattern (skill).

Change: And that it takes 3000 – 5000 repetitions to re-write or correct a bad movement pattern (skill) 

Concentrate on getting it right and keeping it right, and you’ll progress 10x faster.

You’re creating these movement habits all the time – every time you move you’re forming these motor learning engrams – causing physical and chemical changes affecting how movements are stored and recalled from your brain.

There can be a curse from greater experience…

Parts of a movement you’ve overlooked can now be embedded in with poor form.

And it’ll take conscious effort to change that – more than it takes to learn it from scratch.

If you’re new to a type of training, then you’re learning something new – crafting a new engram and committing it to ‘autopilot’.

Don’t rush it. Reinforce every aspect of the technique or movement…

The starting stance, footwork involved, the attacking or defending technique itself, and then the return to balanced stance.

And just because the movement may externally look right, it doesn’t mean you’re patterning the right muscles to make it happen.

There can be a lot of waste, driving movement inefficiently.

And this is where fundamental joint movements can be targeted in strength and conditioning sessions to correct and reinforce effective engrams.

Use S&C To Develop Quality Engrams

It’s easy for your body to unknowingly cheat a movement pattern when it’s unloaded…

But with intensity come efficiency, or you simply can’t complete the task.

Loading movements teaches you to how to move properly and reinforces strong, powerful, efficient engrams.

If you’re experienced, you’ve got the harder task of changing engram that’s already bedded in…

Which, as we’ve already discussed takes 10x longer than learning a fresh!

Here, your session trains a corrective pattern using various drills to rewrite an old, unuseful engram. 

Nobody’s Perfect

I’ve personally found this to be a part of training that set me part from others…

Not only being willing to drill something apparently simple over and over, but being willing to accept that, despite my experience, there were changes I needed to make – parts of the movement that I’ve overlooked and inadvertently reinforced poor habits.

And this I believe, takes you further than your opponents and allows coaches to develop better fighters.

Be willing to look for these opportunities and put some work into them.

For example, you may be proud of your round kick…

But what do you do with the leg after you’ve landed the kick?

Do you consistently return quickly to a balanced stance?

If not, work it!

The things you’re doing well must be practiced to keep it sharp and ready for instantaneous recall…

But, make sure you’re reinforce good habits and not bad ones.

For me, it’s most effective to reinforce the well-practiced technique as a finisher – training Technique Under Fatigue (TUF)…

Whereas repeating tired, sloppy technique will reinforce just that.

I only like fighters to drill technique under fatigue (TUF) that they have really stable engrams for.

Consider this for your next training session..

While you’re fresh, just after the warm up, make it your focus to either:

  • Learn something new (drilling carefully, building a new high-quality motor pattern habit/engram), or…
  • Take something that you currently want to change, and drill the crap out of it in as many different ways, with as many different drills as possible! 

Just make sure you’re reinforcing what you do want, and not what you don’t.

  • Then, regardless if you decided your session was learning focused, or change focused, finish by reinforcing your well-practiced and stable techniques as a finisher – making sure you’re targeting maintaining technique under fatigue rather than just effort.

In this way, that session was productive – making you better, rather than just another workout.

Fundamental to this is understanding what makes you better at Muay Thai and what makes you either worse or wastes time!

And we’ve discussed this here based on my coaching framework of:

  1. Learning (programming a new engram pattern from scratch), or
  2. Changing (reprogramming an old, poorly formed engram pattern), and
  3. Reinforcing (bedding in trusted engram pattern under fatigue)

Do this every time you train and see the difference you can make in just a couple of weeks, let alone months, or years.

Don Heatrick

Founder of Heatrick Strength and Conditioning

Don Heatrick is a family man from the UK, former mechanical design engineer, European Muay Thai silver medallist, former pro Thai boxer (ranked 4th in UK while aged 40-years), a Muay Thai coach, podcast host, and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.

Don helps ambitious fighters and coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai.

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