In this short piece I will share with you the art of always winning and the mistake, made by many, to lose twice in one fight.
I have worked with several athletes of different skills with different challenges ahead of them. One fighter might be preparing for his MMA debut and the next one I work with might be fighting an elite opponent. Every fighter has different challenges but the following article is true for all and it can make the difference between making it in MMA or retiring in defeat after a few fights.
Every single fighter should have a mind coach, just like we have wrestling coaches, Thai boxing coaches, boxing coaches, BJJ coaches, S&C coaches etcetera. However, when fighters go through winning phases, most don’t think about mind coaching; many believe that mind coaching is only for those who have problems of nerves, insecurity, lack of confidence or any other psychological issue which may be preventing them from winning. Once an athlete has worked with a mind coach once, he or she quickly understands the benefits and the importance of doing so.
Working with a mind coach is a small part of the training camp of an athlete, it has an influence just like every other part of the MMA training has but it is not going to guarantee wins; Chuck Liddell lost one of his most important fights even though he prepared mentally by working with Anthony Robbins (probably the best mind coach ever existed). In MMA nothing can guarantee victory but many things can guarantee defeat. Not working on your mind-fitness is one of those just like not working on your boxing, wrestling or any other discipline.
Mind coaching is especially important for the post fight phase; in case of victory, it is important to help the athlete refocus on a new task ahead, remain humble, grow (physically and mentally) and “reset” the buttons. In case of defeat mind coaching can help athletes in a very big way. Not to console them or make them feel better about the fight gone not as planned, but rather the opposite.
This is the time when a good mind coach should help the athlete learn as much as possible from the loss and become a better fighter. This is often overlooked by coaches and sometimes, obviously unintentionally, coaches and team-mates cause more damage by making up or putting up with various excuses; “the matt was slippery”, “the ref was bad”, “the opponent threw illegal shots”, “was out for too long”, “the gloves where poor quality” and the list goes on and on.
The problem here is that when a fighter makes excuses for the loss, which is a defence mechanism to protect one’s self esteem, deep inside he or she knows full well that these are excuses; they know it and try to overwrite this awareness although this is impossible to accomplish. When a team-mate or coach agrees with the athletes on the excuses, deep inside the athlete knows that the agreement is only an act of compassion which in turn makes the athlete feel even worse about the defeat. This is often unidentified by the conscious awareness and it gets interpreted as frustration, disappointment, sadness and sometimes even depression or simply a feeling of not being good enough.
If the athlete (as well as the coaches and team-mates) can avoid making any excuse (even when the matt was indeed slippery and the ref was really bad), then the only task in hand would be to improve and do better. No need to worry about the matt, the ref, the ring-rust of next fight! We could just focus on getting better! Sounds much easier to me… All that there would be left is a burning desired to get back in the cage and fight better. Frustration may of course be felt but only because the fighter thinks that he or she could have done much better which is way easier to fix than any external factor (excuses).
If we take this truth and applied rigorously we will find ourselves winning even when we lose as we would be able to learn something from each fight whether we get the W or not. I can assure you than the vast majority of fighters are not able to do this and so if you can fit in the minority who do, you will be a long step ahead. If you apply this you will learn the art of winning, always! If you don’t apply this you will lose twice everytime you lose!