7 Pitfalls for Fighters

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by Corey Beasley

Over the years, I have seen, heard and experienced a lot of crazy things.  I see a lot of common things that are tripping people up, causing issues and slowing down their progress.  As fighting and other combat sports become more competitive, it is essential to learn from our mistakes, the mistakes of others and develop a plan of attack that helps our athletes rise above the competition.  The following list reveals some of the challenges that we face every week or have experienced in the past.  Hopefully these will help you avoid some of these pitfalls and create a more efficient plan for your athletes.

7 Mistakes That Are Killing Your Progress, Slowing You Down and Holding You Back

1.  What do you feel like doin today?

How many of you have heard or said this before?  I’m guilty too.  So many coaches and athletes simply do whatever comes to mind that day, and have no clear plan of attack.  To get the best results in the gym, we have to understand where the athlete is currently, where we need to go,  and how we are going to get there.   Once we understand an athletes strengths, weaknesses and goals, we can develop workouts to fit those needs.  Once the plan is developed, discussed and set in motion, then all we have to do is execute.  Although this sounds easy on paper, it can be difficult.

2.  Something came up…

A lot of athletes want to reach the top, but never quite get “the rubber to meet the road”.  They justify missing a few practices, fail to plan ahead or whatever.  The truth is that they allowed other things to sidetrack them and it becomes a habit.  We can all justify missing a workout, but it adds up over time and can mean the difference between making it to the big show or getting sent home.  Think about it this way…miss one workout a week and a consistent competitor gets 40-50 more workouts than you or your athlete.  I’m not sure about you, but I now that we can accomplish a lot of incredible things in 40+ workouts.  Keep yourself, your team and your athletes on track and simply staying consistent can make you go from good to great.

3.  More is better…

MMA requires a wide variety of skills and it can be overwhelming.  Boxing, muay thai, wrestling, jiu jitsu and more.  If an athlete lacks certain skills, then many believe that they must cram as many sessions into each day as possible.  The result is usually disaster and leads to a variety of issues.  Lack of communication between the athlete and coaches leads to a burned out, injured athlete that is frustrated with their lack of progress.  MMA and other sports may require years of practice and its important to develop a plan of attack that is sustainable for years to come.

4.  Its been almost two years…where’s my UFC contract?

I grew up wrestling and when I joined a local jiu jitsu club, I was pissed that I was getting tapped by women and old men.  Many athletes expect too much too soon and get frustrated when they aren’t winning tournaments from the start.  This is just a byproduct of our microwave society that expects all of the results without putting in time.  I think this is one of the coolest things about fighting, jiu jitsu and other martial arts.   People need to learn how to embrace the process, set short and long term goals, stay consistent and they will improve over time.

5.  Go hard or go home…

MMA is a rough sport, where injuries are pretty common place.  Most of the time, the last thing they need is another killer workout that simply makes them tired.  I understand that people post this type of stuff to display toughness or inspire others to get off their ass, but this type of mentality is usually short lived.  When writing a plan of attack, there should be variations in training intensity, duration, volume and other variations that allow the athlete to get better, not just tired.

6.  Fighting is a Team Sport…

As mentioned above, many fighters work with a variety of coaches to improve.  While some are fortunate to have everyone under one roof, most fighters spend their week traveling from gym to gym to get everything they need.  They may have a jiu jitsu coach, wrestling coach, boxing coach and spar with different people every week.  While the variety is great to improve their skill set, the coaches usually have no idea what everyone else is doing.  What ends up happening is that the athlete gets worn out by all of the practice, sparring, strength and conditioning.  Taking the time to get all of the coaches on the same page, can be time consuming and difficult, but is a necessity, if an athlete wants to perform at the highest levels.

7.  Take a Break, Before You’re Forced to Take One

When I grew up, I read inspiring stories about Dan Gable.  His work ethic was unlike anyone had ever seen and continues to inspire people today.  While I admire his accomplishments, I think many people take it a bit too far.  Athletes need time off, period.  It all stems back to a good game plan, clear expectations and quality execution.  An important part of that plan needs to be time off every week.  It may be a half day, a full day or more, depending on the athlete and their goals.  Fighting can take its  toll on the body, just like lifting heavy weights.  Taking enough time off can help the body and mind recuperate and lead to more effective future sessions.

Bottom line is that every athlete needs a plan.  Whoever is involved in that athletes career needs to be aware and on board with that plan and then it takes lots of communication to execute that plan effectively.  Just like anything, success as a combat athlete takes time, effort, overcoming obstacles and way more work than most people ever thought possible.  Hopefully some of the tips above will help you avoid common pitfalls and get to your goals more efficiently this year.

Corey Beasley is co-owner of Innovative Results gym in Costa Mesa, CA and runs a fight specific strength and conditioning website called



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