Nerves: The good the bad and the ugly

Ben Edwards 14 July 2014


I’m very fortunate in the fact that I have always naturally dealt with pre competition nerves well. I always enjoy lightening the very stressful atmosphere in the change room before a fight with sometimes awful attempts at levity and schoolyard humour.

Everybody deals with stress in different ways, I’ve seen multiple people look like world champions in the gym but come the day of the competition, they crumble mentally in the ring, if they even make it to the ring. Basically, pressure changes everything.

A lot of people think they’re are getting sick when the nerves kick in but that’s because they don’t understand what’s happening with their bodies. This sometimes awful and morbid feeling is the human bodies survival mechanism kicking in: The ‘ Fight or flight response ”   For example the sensation of ‘ butterflies ‘ in the stomach is blood leaving all non essential organs to go to your muscles so you can essentially, run away or fight and defend yourself. That’s why your arms feel so heavy when you’re in a threatening situation, they are full of blood for maximum performance.

One of the mantras I live by is ‘ the more nervous I am the ‘ sharper ‘ I am ‘, mentally and therefore physically as well.  That’s not an arbitrary statement, the more nervous I have been for fights, the better I have performed.

There are of course diminishing returns on nerves, sometime peoples nerves can get the best of the them and negatively influence performance. You just need to find the right balance between ‘ switched on ‘ and ‘ sharp ‘ ( focused ) to ‘ I can’t do this, I feel like I’m going to die ‘ ( catastrophic thinking ).

People on both sides of the spectrum enjoy listening to music to either hype them up or calm them down depending on which side of the spectrum their personality resides.



I am notorious for sleeping at the venue and not listening to music before a fight because I feel the nerves and anxiety are their to help me to protect myself and perform at %100 and music would ‘ take the edge off ‘ but this is completely subjective.

Embrace your nerves, they are the best friend you will ever have.

Ben has lived in Canberra since 1988. He fights out of Bulldog Gym, Elite Physique. Ben started training in 2003 with his first trainer the late John Verran and is currently trained by Jamie McCuaig and Stuart McKinnon. Ben has had 49 Kickboxing fights for an 39 wins with an astonishing %88 KO ratio. Ben is also a professional boxer and MMA fighter with an undefeated record of 6 fights for 5 wins and 1 draw. The draw was for the Australian Heavyweight Boxing Title. He was also a Canberra Raiders junior representative and played first grade for the Queanbeyan Blues at the age of 17. Ben is one of our newest RiotACT contributors and will sharing weekly tips and thoughts on fitness.

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