Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Right Mix – Creating Balance in your Abilities

by Doug Ward on December 20, 2011

The term “symmetry” is often used in bodybuilding circles in reference to muscular proportion.  It means having aesthetically pleasing proportionality and balance.  Although the aesthetic part doesn’t apply, the balance aspect of symmetry is vital to boxing.  It is important as a fighter to have balance and well-proportioned skills. Boxing Symmetry = skills in all areas that are similar in size, strength and form.

Symmetry, or being adept at many aspects of ring generalship, is a key trait of any successful fighter.  One-dimensional boxers don’t last long.  Any fighter who depends primarily on one strength or focuses on the easy part of his game, is eventually going to get exposed, so it’s important to round out your skill set. Become the most complete fighter you can and don’t rely on only your best asset to pull you through. If your hook is powerful, but you have no jab or a sloppy right hand, you will eventually run into that opponent who has a tremendous defense against it and naturally moves to his left, away from your left hook.  What then?  If you don’t have a solid right hand to drive him back to your left, then you’ll spend the whole night looking for that golden opportunity, that one opening that may never come.  So, rounding out your game and loading up with a full arsenal of punches, means turning your weaknesses into strengths.  That requires letting go of your ego, being willing to feel a little frustration, focus more on what you’re doing and work a little harder at something that may not come as naturally.

First, it will require you to set your ego aside.  Stop trying to impress everyone in gym with your vicious right hand.  If that’s your bread and butter, save it for desert.  Instead, spend the bulk of your time in the gym demanding that same kind of power and proficiency from your jab.  That may mean improving the technique with which you throw the jab, how strong your left hand is or simply how often you use it…how much you rely on it.  Break each jab down to find why it is not your strong suit.  If it’s technique, practice throwing the jab over and over until it feels like your left arm is going to fall off. Watch yourself in the mirror and pay strict attention to form.  If you lack strength in the jab, use it non-stop.  Incorporate some single arm dumbbell exercises to even your arms out, forcing them to work independently.  Then do the hardest part, practice it in sparring.  Don’t revert back to relying on your strength to be The Equalizer.  Force yourself to stick to the jab and use it even when you’re tempted to shut the action down with one huge right hand. This is where ego comes into the picture.  You may not dominate the sparring session and you may even take some punches you wouldn’t have otherwise, but pay the price now to make your jab better later.  Whether it’s the jab or another punch in your arsenal that could use some attention, demand more from it until it can carry its fair share of the load.

Next, after setting the goal of gaining symmetry in your punches, realize that it may not happen quickly and it may not be easy.  You may even look silly at times.  If it is a punch that just doesn’t come easy
for you, that’s understandable.  If you tend to slap with your hook or all too often miss with it, you may feel like it’s easier to just avoid using it. Instead, dedicate yourself to making it a dominant part of your combination punching.  Practice it tirelessly in the mirror to evaluate technique. Watch video of how champions, who had notoriously great left hooks, delivered theirs.  Then, no matter how frustrated you get by not landing it, or how awkward it might feel, continue to throw it.  Do it on the bag, in sparring and while shadowboxing.  Throw it until it feels right or at least until it feels natural.

Simply by focusing on what you typically ignore, you will inherently make it stronger, will deliver it with more intent and throw it with greater purpose. By not relying on what comes easy, you will improve as a fighter and you will expand your boundaries.  Rounding out your game and not depending solely on your natural strong suit will, in turn, make you a more all-around dangerous fighter.

As you advance in the sport, the time will come when just relying on what you do best won’t be enough. Doing a lot of things well will keep your opponent guessing about what’s coming next and he’s more apt to play into your strengths if it’s not glaringly obvious which punch that is. Work to become a complete fighter, a symmetrical boxer.  It will require effort, but make every punch you have go to work.  Why not…they’re all on the clock anyway, right?

 

Doug Ward is the President and Trainer for the Underground Boxing Company.

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