We often hear fighters at press conferences say things like “This is the best camp I’ve had, I’m physically and mentally prepared for anything”

My name is Lee Johnson, I work within Sports Psychology for Professional Fighters, and I thought it may be of interest to shine a light on a few things which fighters do mentally to get the extra edge.

1) Visualization

We’ve all heard the top fighters mention this, the most standout example I can recall is when Conner McGregor became the only UFC, 2x weight champion. A journalist asked in the post fight conference “What are the feelings like, now that you have both belts?” Connor responded by saying “It feels familiar, I saw it so clearly” 

Visualization is powerful, and can be tweaked and refined to boast its effects. Here are a few things which I ask my clients to do.

  • See through your own eyes rather than seeing yourself from the outside when practising visualization. In psychology terms it’s called it an ‘associated state’ rather than ‘disassociated state’, the former is more powerful.
  • Add in sound, taste and smell. Work on each area to make the image of your goal as real as possible.
  • When you have created a strong image of your goal, add the feelings of having achieved it. E.g. Pride, joy, happiness

2) Reframe

Reframing is simply looking at something differently so it will be easier to complete.

An example is making weight, very tough on these guys to increase the training and decrease the calories, literally starving themselves. I remember one fighters’ view of making weight was “The battle before the war” we explored this, and then he reframed it to “The work, before the treat” subtle reframing, that made a hard time a little easier.

3) Motivation

Motivation is driven from many sources, however, what we know about motivation is that it is stronger if we focus on people and things outside ourselves. We will do more for others than we will for ourselves. For example, If winning a fight by KO gets you an extra £5,000 like in some tournaments, and if it means you’re  able to take your kids to Disneyland, guess what’s going to happen

To sum up, the above are all mind exercises which fighters do to create a crystal clear picture of their goal using the 5 senses, change their perceptions of things so they are more effective and create a cause bigger than themselves. 

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