In the first part of this series on assessing your mma performance I highlighted some of the reasons why you might not be recognising the progression of your MMA skills. In part two of the series here I’ll aim to give you some tips that will help to really see how well you are progressing.
1. Consciously appraise what’s good as well as what’s bad
Critiquing your own performance is a fundamental part of your growth in MMA, It’s natural though to always focus on what you could do better as that’s obviously where the opportunity for growth is. However, the problem with this is that it can have a very negative impact mentally. If you continuously focus on what you’re doing wrong then you’re constantly reinforcing a perception of yourself that is not positive. Set yourself a rule that for every element that you criticise you’ll also find at least one element or area of your training that you are doing well. Doing this will help keep your motivation and confidence strong but it will also help you to become more aware of your strengths which is just as important to your training when you are formulating gameplans and tactics. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that identifying what you’re doing well also helps you to progress technically. If a particular skill has started to work well for you then by appraising it you reinforce the need to do it and you’re less likely to just take it for granted or move on too quickly. Even relatively basic visualisation of this kind also encourages the brain to learn the technique quicker.
2. Video yourself training
In our first article in this series we identified some of the reasons that you may fail to recognise your own progression. A big part of this is that it’s difficult to accurately recall just how good (or bad) you were previously. If you’re actively competing in mma you may be fortunate enough to have some video footage of yourself that you can refer back to but even if you do have that it’s a good idea to get someone to take some footage out you training on an average night. Try to capture a variety of skills and a variety of intensities and if you’re not too camera shy try to include a diary piece at the start or at the end where you make notes about the skills and techniques you’re working on at that time and the elements you’re struggling with. It’s very rare that you won’t be able to look back on this in six months time and be surprised at just how far you’ve come and of course you can use it immediately to analyse and improve your technique.
3. Tell someone else how good they are
Progression may be difficult to recognise in yourself but the chances are you’re seeing it in your fellow students all the time. Sometimes it can feel like everyone else is moving forward while you’re standing still. As explained in part one of this series it’s very unlikely to be the case that you’re not progressing and other people are probably recognising the progression in your skills. As an instructor I make a point of saying it immediately if I see progression in someone, reminding them of how much improved they are in whichever area I’ve noticed it. I also try and encourage my students to do the same for each other, if they see someone doing something great they should say it. So this tip is really about playing your part in making sure this kind of culture exists in your class, start telling people when you notice their progression and before long it will be paid back with a compliment that comes your way. If this is not really happening for whatever reason you could always just ask a fellow student, particularly someone senior to yourself.
4. Beat yourself up
I always say to my students that training in MMA is a very personal thing, people attend MMA classes with individual aims and goals. The most important and consistent benchmark you have for assessing your skills is yourself and here’s the crudest form of measuring it – ask yourself this question
If I entered the cage against myself with only the skills I had six months ago, would I win?”
That’s really one of the best objectives that you can set yourself, I should always be in a position where the me of today should be able to beat the me of old. Put in this light it’s much easier to be positive about your progression, even after training for over 30 years I’m fairly confident about making this statement most of the time. When I focus in on individual pieces I may feel that I haven’t progressed much in parts but overall I’m confident that the me of today wins.
Hopefully these tips will help you to understand and recognise the progression that you’re making and stop you from being overly negative or critical with your own appraisal. In the final part of the series we’ll look at another crucial element that will help you to effectively measure your progression.