Preparing for a fight is a stressful experience to say the least. Throughout fight camp, it is easy to begin the "what if" process.
What if my opponent is stronger than I am? What if I get sick the week of the fight? What if I don't perform well on fight night? What if? What if? What if?
The panic sets in and I am derailed from performing to a standard of excellence. When this thought process becomes chronic, performing below that standard becomes routine, essentially guaranteeing the thing I feared the most... defeat!
Managing stress is a simple two-step process.
First, identify what is in your circle of control.
Too often, people spend mental energy worrying about the things they are not able to control. I am not able to control my opponent's strength, and no amount of worry will change that.
Rather than focusing on my opponent's strength, I focus on my strength or drills I need to do to minimize that engagement and maximize my chances of victory.
While I may normally bank on being stronger than my opponent, in the event I may not be, if it truly is a concern, I need to develop a contingency game plan. I need to have complete faith in the new plan, or I will grasp onto the hope that I am stronger than my opponent... only leading to further doubt and stress.
While the tendency may be to drift back into the things I cannot control, it is imperative to release those thoughts. They will only act as mental anchors paralyzing any progress in a productive direction.
I can control my strength. I can control my game plan. I can control how I execute my drills in practice each day leading up to the fight, which will directly affect my performance on fight night.
Although I may not be able to completely control whether or not I get sick, I do have some level of control. While I can't stop the person standing next to me at the coffee shop from sneezing on me, I can control my exposure to sick people, the amount of sleep I get, the foods I eat to minimize my chances of sickness and even the public places I go.
Remember, the outcome ultimately rests on your shoulders and the things you can control. Planning will help you minimize the things you are not able to control.
Look out for Part 2 of how to manage stress in Franklin's next column!
For more inspiration from Rich Franklin, follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@RichFranklin).