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Lessons from Fedor Emelianenko

Sure, Fedor Emelianenko is an MMA fighter, not a basketball player, but I believe that in learning how to be the best, you learn from the best in any discipline, not the pretty good from your own discipline.

Many of his opponents say that his mental skills are what truly separate him from every one else in MMA:

“He has a unique mindset, because he’s a very calm, very tranquil fighter,” said Rua, a former PRIDE fighter who got to share many fight cards with Emelianenko. “He’s very relaxed and just does his job. He never panics. That’s a huge difference between him and other fighters.”

In preparation for his Affliction Heavyweight fight with Andrei Arlovski this evening, Emelianenko talks about the importance of controlling his emotions and his mental capacity:

The placid demeanor he carries into the ring seems to have an eerie effect upon his opponents. Many fighters grunt and growl and use a lot of kinetic energy as they’re in the ring or the cage awaiting the start of a fight. Emelianenko, though, stares impassively ahead until the bell rings, at which point he erupts.

“It’s something that comes with time,” Emelianenko said of his demeanor. “For me, it’s part of the training process. When I’m in training camp, one of the things that I work on very much is controlling my emotions. Earlier in my career I worried a lot more and then I got a lot more nervous and the emotions were much less controllable.

“And there wasn’t any particular fight or any particular moment when I got more control over it. It was a step-by-step process throughout my career where every time I train for another fight and every time I go through certain things, I put more emphasis on that as part of the training process.”

A lot of players try to get “hyped up” before a big game, but this is wasted energy. If you need to get yourself hyped for a game, your probably not in the right sport or you have lost the passion for playing basketball. Playing should excite you. But, to perform optimally, you need to learn to control the excitement and use it appropriately. Many teams start the game jacked on emotion, but cannot sustain it for the entire game because they expend so much emotional energy. It’s better to control your emotions and use your energy to produce on the court.

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