by Don Heatrick

This episode looks at overcoming pre-fight fear, how introverts can shift state to fight at their best, and why it takes more than a solid S&C program to become a champion!

Overcoming Pre-fight Fear

All fighters feel anxiety before they fight, and for many it becomes full-on fear!

It’s normal, but it must be controlled if you’re going to fight at your best.

Fear = Anxiety + Uncertainty

–Anxiety without Uncertainty is Nervousness

And pre-fight nerves are good…

It means you respect the situation and you’re primed to perform better than you could do without the nerves.

–Uncertainty without Anxiety is Excitement!

In fact, Anxiety, Fear, and Excitement all produce the exact same neurobiological signals in the brain!

Separating Anxiety from Uncertainty is the antidote to Fear.

You can achieve this by either, or both…

  • Reducing anxiety by better controlling your internal state – using breathing methods for example
  • Increasing certainty by controlling more of the external environment and reframing the situation…

– What about this do I know? – if it’s not your first fight, you’ve been here before

– What about this do I understand? – learn about anxiety/fear and what to expect (like this post for example), and decide to reframe the sensation of anxiety into excitement

– What about this can I control? – just work through your pre-fight prep routine, step by step

And finally, becoming ok with a certain level of uncertainty!

Taking action is the key…

Control what you can control. Pick one thing and complete it. Move on to the next thing.

Each time you set yourself a (mini) goal and complete it, you get a little bit of dopamine (the reward chemical), triggering excitement.

Just taking control of something will pull you out of a spin!

Introverts Shifting State

Can introverts ever become comfortable with fighting?

Yes! Absolutely!

Many of the great fighters that I interview on the Science Of Building Champions Podcast are firm introverts – they struggle in the hustle and bustle of groups and limelight attention.

I’m an introvert too. But I discovered I can ‘switch gears’ for a short time, and embrace more outgoing personality traits in pursuit of what Psychologist, Brian R. Little calls ‘personal projects’.

When you’re passionate about something, you’re capable of suspending your biogenic fixed traits (such as introversion) and adopting ‘free traits’ that better serve your passion in that moment…

You become a ‘Pseudo-Extrovert’!

It’s not that you’re faking it, just that you can temporarily tap into a free state that aligns with your true passion…

Albeit, at a high energy cost. It’s important that you allow yourself the opportunity to recover afterwards, take yourself away for some quiet time.

So as an introvert, although you may not believe you can ever get comfortable in the limelight in the ring, you absolutely can.

And especially for introverts, doing so, can lead to tremendous personal growth.

Champion? It Takes More Than a Solid S&C Program

I’ve been asked if by using my training programs you can become a champion…

And a truthful, meaningful answer requires a deeper explanation.

Your initial level of achievement (in anything) is a product of your talent multiplied by your effort.

Over time, persistent effort builds skill.

And according to Dr. Angela Duckworth, your ultimate level of achievement is a product of your skill multiplied by your effort.

Effort is the key to unlocking talent (your natural aptitude or inborn ability) and turning it into a levelled up skill (a learnt ability).

But not all ‘effort’ is created equal.

Reaching the top undoubtedly requires talent and long-term effort to build the prerequisite skill of a champion…

But that effort must also be high quality.

You must 80/20 your effort to target the priority few, instead of wasting time on the trivial many.

Double down on the 20% of your actions that produce 80% of your results, not the other way around.

My programs are designed to give you the priority 20% actions that will see you build the performance foundation of a champion…

To make sure your effort is not wasted. That’s my job.

But that’s not the complete picture.

Your environment shapes your effort too…

Who else is supporting you?

What opportunities are available to you?

Your job is not only to follow the training and apply the required effort, but to also seek out a supportive, adequately skilled environment in which to develop your craft.

Your training facilities, Muay Thai gym, the coaches, your teammates, local fight promotions, etc. All need to achieve a minimum threshold of support and opportunity.

Only when all of these elements are in place can you hope to become a champion.

Using my programs can’t guarantee you will become a champion, but they will plug the gaps you’d be missing otherwise.

And if you have the talent, a supportive environment, and put in the effort, this significantly increases the probability of you becoming a champion, and staying there.

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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