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Time Management


“Time is money!” is a business mantra that points out that time wasted is money lost. For ring fighters, the mantra could very well be “time is points”; wasting time means wasting points. Wasting time in the ring could be moving around without attacking, but it could also be attacking continuously but never scoring. Time management is an important part of any ring strategy. The following are some ways time may be managed in a competition.

You must also manage your time in the months, weeks, and days leading up to a competition when you are training and preparing for the competition. This is discussed in detail under the competition topic.


To be the champion of a competition, you will have to win a certain number of matches. Each match has a certain number of rounds and each round has a certain length. To become champion, you know approximately how many rounds you must fight but you don’t know how demanding each round will be. Therefore, the first time management strategy is to ensure you are in top physical condition before the competition begins so you will be able to easily fight all rounds of every match to the best of your ability. When you have high stamina, you don’t have to be as concerned about other areas of time management.

Now that you are ready for the competition, you have to look at the maximum number of matches you may have to fight to become the champion and pace yourself accordingly. During certain matches, you may have to fight at a high activity level, while in others you may get to fight at a lower activity level. During the competition, you will have to adjust your fighting style during each match, first to win the current match, but also to be able to meet your final goal of being the champion.

Within a specific match, you must ensure you will be able to fight effectively until the end of the final round although you may win before the final round. If you waste energy too early in a match, you will not be effective in the later rounds of the match and may lose any advantage you may have built.
Within each round, you must rate your stamina against the opponent’s stamina and make adjustments accordingly. From your pre-fight reconnaissance, you should know what the opponent’s stamina is usually at various times during a round.

You will know if the opponent:
  • Starts strong, stays strong in the middle, and finishes strong.
  • Starts strong, stays strong in the middle, and fades near the end.
  • Starts strong, fades in the middle, and then gets a “second wind” and comes back strong at the end.
  • Starts strong, quickly burns out, and finishes weak.
  • Starts weak, builds strength in the middle, and finishes strong.
  • Starts weak, stays weak in the middle, and gets strong near the end.
  • Starts weak, gets strong in the middle, and then burns out at the end.
  • Starts weak, stays weak in the middle, and finishes weak.
Your response to the opponent’s stamina should be:
  • Ideally, you want to start a round strong, stay strong, and finish strong.
  • The next best thing is to be strong when the opponent is strong and be a little stronger when the opponent is weakening or weak.
  • At the least, you should try to match the opponent’s activity, strong when strong, weak when weak.
  • If you are always weaker, you will probably lose.

Time awareness

You should always be aware of the time remaining in a round. When the end of a round nears, if you are positive you are ahead on points; you may want to ease your activity. If you are behind on points, you should increase your activity and finish the round in a flurry. If you are resting a little in the middle of a round, you must be aware of the time so you will be able to make your spectacular finish.

No clocks

During most matches, you will not have a clock within sight so you can know the time remaining in a round. You may or may not get a 10-seconds remaining warning of some type. This means you must develop your internal clock so you will have somewhat of an idea where you are in a round. If the round has had a lot of action, you will probably think the time elapsed is more than it is. If the round has had little action, it may seem if the round has lasted too long.

Fighting strategy

Many competitions have hundreds of competitors. To finish the competition in a reasonable time, competition promoters set the length of the round and or matches. Some competitions with a high number of competitors and limited time for the competition set the match times for the preliminary rounds to one one-minute round.

I tell students that any athlete can hold his or her breath for 60 seconds; so ideally, one should not even have to breathe during a round. Under fighting conditions, this is not possible, but it does mean that you should be able to throw continuous kicks and punches for the entire round. If the opponent never gets an opportunity to score, he or she will not score. In a one-minute round, there is no time to dance around and feel out the opponent; you just attack. However, in competitions where rounds are longer and/or more numerous, this strategy will not work; in these competitions, you will have to manage your time and pace yourself accordingly.

High activity means most techniques are being fired instinctively; there is little time to think. Your success rate will depend on how much you have trained your body to react instinctively. The more you spar, the more instinctively you will fight. Low activity gives you lots of time to think, usually too much time. When given more time, you tend to think about what to try next instead of instinctively firing into openings with whatever is available at the time.

If you always sit back and avoid or block, you will not score; you only score if you attack. You could be the best blocker in the world but never win a match if you do not attack. Blocking skills may give you time to rest, but you must be aware of the remaining time in a round so do you will not wait too long and end up short on points.

If you have ever been running and decided to walk a while and then start running again, you know how difficult it is to get started running again. If you take a break in a round, you will probably find the time expires before you can get going again.

Confidence level

Time management will be easier the more confident you are in your abilities and in your dominance of the opponent. If you are confident, you may be content to be down a point or two, knowing you can make them up at will. If you are not confident and are down on points, you may rush the action and burn out before the round ends, allowing your opponent to score even more points.

If you are ahead on points, you should keep up your attacks while being extra careful not to give up any points. If you go purely defensive, you will allow your opponent an opportunity to attack more and possibly score more points. If you are behind on points, you should attack steadily with relatively sure techniques while maintaining your defenses; do not get rushed and lose control of the situation.

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