The Importance of Developing your Strengths

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Mike Moffa pads Ariane

photo Jonathan Goulet

To excel in boxing, you have to be versatile, but that doesn’t mean being a jack-of-all trades.

Several boxers have become champions because they mastered certain aspects of the game (e.g., boxing on the outside, footwork, counter-attacks), while their level of skill for other aspects (e.g.,. body work and tight defense) was just average. That’s all the more reason to keep on improving your strengths over time ;)

All boxers who aspire to progress work on developing new skills throughout their careers (footwork, defensive movements, feints, etc.). Given the tournament formula of Olympic boxing, we want to build a diversified "toolbox"; in the first bout of a tournament, we might have to adapt to a southpaw who puts pressure and then, the next day, to a tall orthodox opponent who counter-attacks a lot, and so on. In short, with our coaches, we work hardon our weaknesses to become versatile, and it makes sense to do so. We want to become as well rounded and efficient as possible.

That being said, it is important to keep developing our strengths too. Take for example Ariane Fortin, who has an excellent straight left. (Don’t worry, I won’t make a Jean Pascal of myself by speaking in the 3rd person; it is strictly for the sake of clarity of this example!) ;) So, Ariane the southpaw should work on making her straight left even better – by working on her explosion, by finding new feints or new moves to set it up, etc. So while her opponents may know that this punch is her strength, they still might not know how to counter her sensational straight left (#sarcasm). So, in training, make sure you improve your weaknesses, but also continue to improve your strengths.

A self-focused game plan

The more experience you gain, the more you’ll be able to adapt your strategy specifically to each opponent, and that is all to your credit! But be careful not to fall into the trap of studying your opponent "too well." This will cause you to box in reaction to what he or she will do letting the other dictate the action. While preparing your strategy, make sure that you focus on what you will do in the ring, no matter who is in the other corner. Impose your game plan and use your strengths to dictate the action!

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