I got into boxing relatively late, at 18. Most of the fighters I know started much younger. I’ve been around many community youth boxing programs for the last 20 years, and in that time, I’ve noticed a difference in how the kid’s train. For a long time, boxing was seen as an inner-city sport and something that was used to give kids a place to go after school and keep them off the streets. Though it still serves that purpose, many suburban families realize the benefits of involving their young athletes in the sport. I took some time to narrow down the ten most important reasons that your young athletes should follow suit.
While this is probably the most obvious reason, it is an important one. There is a real value in having your kids know that they can defend themselves, should they ever need to. Parents often worry about bullying once their children learn how to box. According to studies done at Wayne State University in Detroit, kids learning boxing or martial arts are far less likely to be involved in bullying. Also, the footwork and agility work they will learn will serve them well should they ever need to quickly escape a dangerous situation.
With childhood obesity being one of today’s most significant health concerns for our kids, boxing is a fantastic way to get in shape while learning something of value. When you can provide them with something they enjoy doing, they will be more likely to put down the video games and partake in a physical activity that provides both an aerobic benefit as well as strength work.
Kids deal with a lot of emotions that we, as parents, no longer have. Sometimes it is hard for kids to find a proper outlet for those emotions. They often come out as they act out or do something else that shows a lack of impulse control. That pent up aggression is also a precursor to future heart and anxiety issues. Boxing is a healthy release. What better way to get your aggression out than to punch something? And with boxing, you are doing it in a controlled environment and with proper equipment.
Boxing builds character because it forces you to overcome obstacles in that specific moment, learning how to adapt. Kids that feel good about themselves are far less prone to outbursts or other attention-seeking behavior that often leads to harmful situations and trouble. By becoming sharper mentally and physically stronger, kids have higher self-esteem and show less anxiety.
Boxing is a very detail-oriented sport. Not only does it take discipline to learn those specific repetitive punch combinations, but it also takes mental discipline. Trying to keep your composure while someone is trying to hit you is not as easy as some might think. By learning to keep their emotions in check while in a stressful situation, they learn necessary disciplinary skills that they will use further down the road in life.
Having a goal does not take much. Having the ability to put a plan together regarding how to reach that goal is not as easy. In boxing, everything is based on learning small steps before moving on to another. If your short-term goal is to learn the next punch in a combination sequence, you know to focus on that. Short term goal setting. Looking down the road, you set a plan in motion that will allow you to get to that point through meeting all your short-term goals.
Boxing is quite different than a team sport. Though you train with others, you still compete alone. This is a scary thing for most kids. It is a great challenge to put yourself through, though. You learn more about yourself after 3 minutes in a boxing ring than you do playing a full season of football. Though this is a lesson learned by yourself, you are counting on everyone else in the gym to help you reach that point. It also teaches kids how to accept playing a part in someone else’s success. By helping others get better, they learn to put the needs of someone else in front of their own for the short term.
This one could fall under social development to some degree. Boxing is challenging because of what it entails. You are trying to hit your opponent while they are trying to the same to you. Keeping your emotions in check teaches them to respect their opponent and, in that regard, they gain a certain level of self-respect. The more discipline they show, the better they feel. Working as closely with a coach as boxing necessitates also teaches them to respect authority figures.
Boxing is not as easy as walking into the gym and punching bags. It requires a very deliberate set of skills needed to learn safely. These skills and the learning of them require strict focus and a clear mind. Your ability to keep out mental distractions is a huge skill that they will take with them when they leave the gym.
In boxing, they will learn many of the same things that they would know in school. But because they are coming in a different setting, they sometimes hold on to them better. In boxing, they learn problem-solving, proper nutrition, self-care, and even counting.
In the end, boxing is not about boxing. It is about all the things that lead up to being a boxer. The actual boxing is just the result. These lessons are learned while training, mainly in the preparation, which can be applied to everyday life.