Flinching, the first nightmare a beginner boxer will face. I personally had a really tough time overcoming this reflex, I had it so bad that I was flinching while throwing the punches not just while receiving. Needless to say that was giving me a huge disadvantage, and all my colleagues eventually caught up with it. Every time I was throwing a punch they were instantly countering me due to the blink I would not have enough time to block their attack, which lead to a couple of visits to the pharmacy for stitching up.
Obviously I could not keep going to the pharmacy after every sparring section, so I had decided that unless I can overcome this it’s basically game over for my martial arts carrier. Today this is no longer an issue and one of the reasons why I like to focus on someone’s eyes instead of there mid section while fighting is to see if my opponent has overcome the flinch reflex, than after the fight I tell them how I was hitting them and how to train so that flinching would not be an issue. Don’t get me wrong if I noticed this in a professional fight I’d abuse my opponent’s weakness to it’s full extent but I never witnessed this situation in a professional fight, only while training with fellow colleagues. Anyways these are the tips that helped me to stop flinching in boxing I hope they help you out, as I know how frustrating it can be.
Tips To Stop Flinching In Boxing
1) First thing I did was remembering previous times were I was flinching unrelated to boxing, which was when we played football back in school. I always closed my eyes when someone shot the ball.
So what I did was get some of my football friends and told them to have a penalty practice section together, win-win situations right there they get to practice shooting and I can start my journey to stop flinching. I decided to take this route because with a penalty there’s quite a distance, it’s not directly in your face and less scary.
I’m not gonna lie it was still scary in the beginning but if you’re focusing specifically to not close your eyes you start to get the hang of it. To this day I still go with them when they are having a friendly and want a goalie, I find it to be good practice to improve your reaction time and being under pressure.
2) Another exercise I decided to do was get my girlfriend to spar with me, the reasoning was that my girlfriend had no fighting experience and little muscle. Therefore in my mind even if she manages to land a hit it’s not going to be painful I’ve taken punches to my face by guys that practice bodybuilding and boxing together, she can’t inflict worse damage for sure.
Sparring with a weaker opponent can really help you train techniques due to this psychological effect, due to the activity being similar to that of a fight I find this particular training way more effective than having someone throwing punches at you with a sequence because you know what’s going to happen and sort of end up doing it like a routine.
My experience with this drill was that I was finding it rather easy to not flinch while striking and while taking punches, blocking almost all attacks and though you will get hit now and then, this is good mentally you are accepting that you will get punched it’s inevitable.
I think this part is obvious but I’m putting it in just in case. When sparring with weaker opponents don’t go all out, respect that they are still beginners and you don’t want to hurt them. Hurting them will discourage them to continue training, and if they are like in my situation someone who doesn’t even train that sport respect that they are helping you out. I was not even closing my fists while striking attacking with light slaps/pokes so that they know that they are being hit and try to block it but it’s not gonna hurt them the slightest.
Practice Makes Perfect
Those where the 2 drills that I practiced specifically to improve my flinching and I can say that they worked really well for me it gives you confidence in your skill. Now the challenge is keeping that confidence when facing a bigger tougher opponent, my advice is simply sparring with these types of guys.
Unfortunately no training drill will ever fully stimulate that of an actual fight there is no way around it. Flinching is a natural defensive mechanism your body does when something gets close to your face, but by focusing on it while sparring you will eventually learn to control it and remember that this takes years not months to properly control.
I hope that you found my experience about dealing with the flinch reflex inspirational and hopefully useful for you to overcome it as well. If you got any more ideas drop them in the comments they will both be useful for people trying to overcome this issue and for me to have more ideas when encountering someone with this weakness.
All images have been taken from pixabay with a Creative Commons CC0 licence.