By Stacy Nakell

When you come to a boxing class, how much effort do you put into each exercise? Do you depend on the teacher or other students to amplify your effort? Do you find yourself putting in less effort and beginning to daydream as soon as the teacher looks away, or do you still give it your all even when no one is looking, or when you are taking a virtual class?

In the boxing ring, whether sparring or competing, the amount of effort you have put into your workouts will have a decisive impact on the outcome. When you stand in the corner, preparing for the opening bell, you will want to be able to say to yourself, “I did everything I needed to do. I put in maximum effort at all times. I never cut a corner, I never skipped a run, I listened to my coach and I gave it my all.” If you can make that statement honestly you will feel a sense of inner peace. Like a warrior going onto the battlefield, you will be ready to face the unknown.

Whether or not you ever plan to get in the ring for full contact, holding that image in your mind may help you to take ownership of the amount of effort you put into every round of shadowboxing, every strength circuit, every Tabata.

Although I never plan to fight again, I still have an imaginary opponent in my mind. As I work out, I remember that she isn’t cutting corners, and that I need to be able to face her with full confidence when we stand face to face. This visualization helps me keep going with full effort even when I’m tired, to dig deep for my second wind. When I hit the bag, I continue the visualization. When I imagine that after my combos she will be returning fire, I remember to use my footwork to stick and move. When I think about getting her onto the ropes for the last 30 seconds, I can find the strength within to keep my punches crisp and powerful.

The next time you notice that you are depending on the coach to motivate you to increase your intensity, you might try to reach inward, for the opponent you imagine facing one day. When the commitment to your own excellence comes from within, you will gain confidence as you work to master the art of boxing.