When athletes start to get serious about their boxing training, there are two questions that often come up: "how do I find a coach?" and "when will I be ready for a competition?". We covered the first question with last week's post on finding the right boxing coach to help you achieve your goals. This week we'll be addressing that second question. If you're starting to wonder how to gauge if you're ready to sign up for a boxing competition and step in the ring for real, then please read on.
Before you start entertaining the idea of entering a competition, though, you first need to ask yourself if you have what it takes to succeed in the ring. Anyone can learn a few combinations and hit the heavy bag a few days a week. Boxers ready to compete need to be persistent, adaptable, and quick-learning. They don't skip training sessions. And they listen to their coach, even if they don’t like what Coach says. The top contenders will be the folks who are not just dedicated athletes, but also excellent listeners. If you think you've got the mentality to compete, here are some ways to tell when you're ring-ready.
1. Your Coach Says You’re Ready
The experts say that the timeframe between first training and first fight varies widely from person to person, but that the very best person to ask is your coach or trainer. A good coach will provide you with complete honesty in their assessments of you. Your coach works with you, day in and day out, pushing you to improve while observing your performance and deciding what to tweak. A good coach has no stake in the game and only wants to see you succeed long-term. If you're coach says you're ready, then you probably are. If you're coach says you need to train some more, then you aren't ready. And if you don't have a coach, then you need to go back to last week's post and work on finding one. Never enter the ring unless a professional coach has agreed that it’s a good time for you to do so.
2. You Have Met Specific Endurance Thresholds
To stand up against another trained fighter in the ring you need to possess excellent endurance. At the beginning of your training, you and your coach should have set up some specific physical fitness targets to aim for as signs of competition-readiness. Some of these goals can be measured objectively. For example, you might need to be able to run a certain distance (say a specific three mile loop) under a certain time. Jumping rope is another good indicator of endurance for fighters. Perhaps you should to be able to jump rope, at a certain speed, for a half hour without stopping. There are lots of different ways to measure your level of conditioning. It will be up to you and your coach to set realistic goals that you can work toward.
Other thresholds aren’t metric-based and will likely be based on your coach's assessment. During sparring sessions, coaches are watching your body, your footwork, and your hands for more than just competence. They want to see that you aren't getting tired and sloppy before the simulated bout ends. Are you executing your fundamentals as cleanly at the beginning of your session on the bag as at the end? If you're not, then it might be a sign that your conditioning might just not be ready. This is yet another reason why trusting in your coach or trainer is vital.
3. You’ve Demonstrated Your Abilities
So you've got the grit and determination to make it as a boxer. Your coach thinks you're ready and you objectively meet a dozen unique fitness-related goals. Next, you need to prove your readiness in the ring. You need to show that you are able to perform well—and, ideally, win—in various competition simulations before you head into a real-life match. Your coach may set you up for sparring sessions similar to the real thing to help you master your technique and iron out any kinks. Be prepared to demonstrate your abilities in multiple sparring sessions, and more, at the gym in the weeks leading up to the big fight.
4. You Feel Ready and Are Self-Confident
Last, but not least, make sure to check your own inner metrics. Do you feel fight-ready? Are you confident in your ability? Squaring off with the competition will take a serious physical toll on your body. You must feel 100 percent confident in what you can do both physically and mentally. Of course, soreness and bruises are par for the course, but ring-ready athletes should be able to get back to training relatively quickly after their first fight. Meeting fitness-related goals and trusting the intuitions of your coach and yourself will get you where you need to be to compete. But you also need to feel confident in that decision as well.
If you've passed all of these milestones, then it’s time to get your competition boxing uniform because this is really happening. You are going to fight... for real... in front of an audience. If you really want to make a splash in your first bout, though, custom apparel is the way to go.