Fitness | The Key To Everything
I was thinking of the fundamental importance of fitness in sport the other day and then I remembered this: an extract from my Boxing Chronicles, a compilation of notes I have put together over the past year.
“You can’t build a great building on a weak foundation. You must have a solid foundation if you’re going to have a strong superstructure.” — Gordon B. Hinckley
For me personally, the biggest thing I am working on and always work on in any sport is fitness. Fitness is the most important aspect in sport; it is even above skill I feel. This is especially true in physical sports such as boxing, football and rugby, for instance.
Fitness allows you to perform at an elite level for a prolonged period of time. It allows you to outlast your opponent and this outlasting can become tremendously decisive in terms of overwhelming your opponent, even if you have inferior skill.
When you are fit you move more. In football you space more. And, in all sports, you are able to finish your actions — either defensive or offensive — which is something that is extremely underrated.
That is what the best athletes do.
Cristiano Ronaldo scores many goals because of his ability to maintain power through his offensive actions — from the burst past the defender, to maintaining body balance, all the way to maintaining power into and through his shot.
LeBron James is able to attack defences, drive through contact to the rim, finish with power and not settle for a jump shot. These examples are down to physical prowess and fitness; hard work in the gym to get your body in the best possible shape. When the fitness is there it accentuates the skill, the flashy stuff; the dunks, the goals.
That is why fitness is so crucial.
In boxing fitness is the base. It allows you to throw punches, keep your hands up, stay on your toes and be able to attack or move away from danger.
Just simply throwing a couple of punches is tiring; throwing jabs in succession is exhausting. Now, on top of that, you have to keep your hands up after every punch. You have to move in and out, side to side. You need to look for and create angles. You must maintain the correct body posture: chin down, back slightly hunched, head moving side to side, hands up.
It is tough. But, with greater levels of fitness you are able to manage it better.
That’s what the best do.
That’s what Miguel Cotto did against Floyd Mayweather when they fought in 2012, one of the best displays by a Mayweather opponent I have seen, if not the best. Cotto’s hands were always up. His jab was always shooting, his feet constantly moving. Cotto’s body was always in correct posture. It was impressive and it was only possible through supreme conditioning.
Fitness allows you to focus, too. That is true in every sport. When you are fit you are able to maintain concentration, focus on the task at hand and keep your composure. You are in control and you remain in control for longer.
And that composure is critical.
It allows you to think, formulate plans through the course of the battle and execute them.
When you are fit, you are also able to recover better. In boxing you are able to take the punishment better. Your body becomes a weapon.