NO PAIN, NO GAIN...ESPECIALLY IN BOXING
Coming up in boxing, I remember getting absolutely banged up from everyone at my skill level to veteran boxers. Sparring with someone who was at my level would look like a a "rock-em, sock-em robot" session. I would stand toe to toe trying to knock out out my opponent. The more seasoned boxers would observe, be patient, and put it on me with a three punch combination whenever I made a mistake. It was extremely frustrating and at times discouraging. But at the same time, I was having the time of my life. You could say I always had sort of a love/hate relationship with boxing.
After wiping the blood from my nose, I would be approached by my trainers. They would tell me what I did right, what I did wrong, and how to get better for the next sparring session. I listened, focused, and did my best not to repeat the same mistake. My trainers would then get me on the heavy bag or the mitts, reiterating what I had to do. I knew if I did not listen, I would be at risk of getting knocked out. I hated taking hard punches. I hated getting cuts and nose bleeds. I wanted to hit and simply not get hit. I learned quickly what I had to do after getting quality sparring and coaching.
After several years of coaching boxing, I have realized the best teacher to the sweet science is not the boxing trainer. It does not matter how many times the trainer corrects the mistake the boxer is making. It does not matter how much film you show of the boxer making mistakes. It does not matter how many pep talks or conditioning you give the boxer. There is only one thing that will make a boxer better. That one thing is...sparring.
I am not taking anything away from conditioning, shadow-boxing, mitt work, heavy bag drills, and the speed bag. They reenforce quality technique and keep the mind and body sharp in order to go round after round. All are very essential in the sport.
There are so many intricacies to the game of boxing. You have to keep your hands up, elbows in, with your chin tucked. You have to stay balanced without crossing your feet when moving left to right or circling. I can go on and on. But how do you master these things in a reasonable amount of time? When do you actually understand the reason why your trainer is telling you the same thing over and over again? You understand when you step into the ring and suffer the consequences for NOT listening to what your coach is telling you. You begin to associate pain with mistakes, therefore you correct the mistakes faster because you do not want to get hit...and feel the pain.
I have learned the hard way numerous times. I have been knocked on my butt by getting hit square on the side of the head for not keeping my right hand up. I have had the wind knocked out of me for not dropping my elbow in order to protect myself from from a left hook to the liver. I have been dropped with a straight right because I did not consistently move my head. It was the school of hard knocks. But it was a school I had to attend to finally understand the intricacies of the sport of boxing.
Whenever I coach someone who has never sparred, does the same mistakes over and over again to the point where I sound like a broken record, I finally understand why. I no longer get impatient and wonder why this person is not listening to me. I now know why the boxer really does not need to listen to me because he/she has not suffered the consequences of the mistakes. The boxer simply has to step in the ring, lace up the gloves, and spar. There is no trainer in the world that can teach what the experience of sparring and receiving pain can teach a boxer.