Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail: Professional Boxers’ Experiences of Training

in The Sport Psychologist

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Duncan SimpsonBarry University

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Craig WrisbergUniversity of Tennessee

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Given the relatively little attention devoted to the study of combat sports in the sport psychology literature, the aim of this investigation was to obtain additional insight into the life and world of professional boxers, particularly with respect to their experiences of training for fights. Existential phenomenological interviews were conducted with nine professional British boxers ranging in age from 22 to 42 years. Qualitative analysis of the transcripts revealed a total of 341 meaning units, which were further grouped into higher order themes. A final thematic structure revealed six major dimensions that characterized participants’ training experience: Achieving Potential, Preparing, Sacrificing, Finding Support, Fearing, and Loving/Hating. The results offer a number of insights for sport psychology researchers and practical implications for boxers, trainers, and sport psychology consultants.

Simpson is with Sport and Exercise Sciences, Barry University, Miami, FL. Wrisberg is with Recreation, and Sport Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN.

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