5 Steps to Help You Get Over Your Fear of Sparring
Tired of letting your fear control your mind & body when it comes to Sparring? Here’s 5 steps you can take to help you manage your fears and become more confident!
In the video above, I go into an in-depth discussion of the 5 steps and talk about how I learned how to manage my fears in my competitive career. You can watch the video HERE, or read the 5 steps below!
1. Identify your Fear
The first step towards being able to manage your fears in sparring is to recognize what is the reason you feel those insecure emotions. Some of the most common reasons are:
- Fear of not being good enough.
- Fear of getting hurt or getting hit.
- Fear of losing or performing badly.
- Fear of other people watching, judging, or getting upset.
Figure out which reasons make you feel nervous. Something to help you identify these might be talking to someone about it or journal and write down a reflection after a sparring session.
2. Talk Through It / Rationalize
The next step is to rationalize and talk yourself through your fear. For example, some people may have a fear of getting hurt or getting hit. Honestly, this is a pretty rational fear because you’re in a ring where you’re trying to hit your opponent to score, and they also are to you. However, there’s a lot you can do to prepare in training sessions so you can be ready for a match. If you’re afraid or unsure of a certain kick or attack, you can practice specific drills in class so your body and mind can both know how to react.
If you’re afraid of not being good enough, there’s a couple of ways you can look at it. Are you expecting yourself to win a Gold Medal at your very first tournament when you’ve only been sparring for a month? Are you comparing yourself to other people? Or are you just afraid of going out to a match and losing? In reality, it doesn’t matter where you are in your journey right now, it’s just your starting point. Maybe you are slower than you wish you were, but the good news is that is something that can be improved through drills and training if you want to get better.
Need help being rational? Try talking to your coach, instructor, or parent for help in talking yourself through your fear.
Lastly, there’s a quote that I heard once that changed my view on fear.
“Energy is never lost, it’s only transferred.”
Having fear can be turned into a positive. The energy of feeling that fear can be a good thing. It’s a great thing to be nervous- that energy gets your adrenaline going, it also means you care and are willing to put in effort- all you need to do is learn how to transfer it into positive energy.
3. Get Rid of Negative Self-Talk
If you actually want to control your fear and turn it into something positive, this is on you. You are the one who has to make that change consciously. Negative self-talk is a habit you are going to have to re-train in your mind. The second you hear a thought of doubt- stop it. Don’t worry if this doesn’t feel natural and you don’t feel completely convinced, keep practicing and cut off negative thoughts as soon as you realize they are in your mind.
4. Define the Attitude You Want to Have
Now that we are working on removing your negative self-talk, we have to find something to replace it with. A few years ago when I was in the beginning of my competitive career, I talked with a sport psychologist about this. She told me to think about someone that I wanted to be like when it came to sparring and to think about what actions she took before a sparring match. What did she look like when she warmed up? How did she stand as she walked into a ring? The point of this was to give my mindset a feeling to try to be like. It’s a way you can mimic something to help you feel more comfortable.
A few other ways you can try to find something confident to try and follow are:
- Listen to music that pumps you up and makes you feel GREAT.
- Read a book with a powerful & strong character that helps you think of that mindset.
- Watch motivational YouTube videos with speeches of people that exude confidence.
Start making these things a part of your routine so they can start developing an attitude in your mind.
5. Put it into Practice
This last step is all about applying the techniques. Don’t wait until a competition to practice getting rid of your fear. Practice in each training session or sparring class that you have. The more you practice, the more natural it will feel.
You are also going to want to work on visualization a lot. Practice retraining your mind to call upon that confident attitude that you want to have when it’s time for a fight. Visualize the ring, how your gear feels, sweat on your forehead, the sounds of referees and fights in the background. Try and make it as real as possible and create the attitude you want to maintain during the entire sparring match.