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Rob Dawson for MindSport

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Using the ‘F*CK IT’ method to combat hesitation in MMA

What is hesitation?


It could be defined as a delay due to uncertainty of mind, or fear. A state of doubt or uncertainty.

So what makes us hesitate? There are numerous reasons for hesitation, including;

Decisions often involve numerous variables, and fear can attach itself to any or all and this inevitably influences your decision or speed of action (potentially causing hesitation).

Over Analysing:
When you overthink and spend your time assessing worst-case scenarios you end up running around in mental circles which almost inevitably lead in a downward spiral and lead to indecision.

Low confidence:
When you see yourself in a negative light you lose the ability to act assertively and decisively because that belief in taking the leap is pulled back by overwhelming questions around your actual ability to succeed, stemming from low confidence.

Similar to low confidence, if you doubt your ability, in physical, technical or mental terms, this will hamper decision making and enhance hesitation.

When the pressure of expectations, be they internal or external weighs upon you then the speed of reaction may slow as a result of hesitation

Sometimes the lack of experience dealing with certain decisions causes paralysis which leaves you hesitating for much longer than someone who has experience in dealing with matters requiring decisiveness.

If you do not feel you have enough information to be confident about acting decisively, a lack of knowledge can lead to hesitation.

Too many options:
Sometimes you have too much knowledge or information leading to too many options which can be overwhelming and leads to indecision or hesitation.

So what can you do about it?


To help work on hesitation we consider the ‘FUCK IT’ method which we adopt through ten stages:


Acknowledge your apprehension and pinpoint the instance of hesitation and reiterate the small steps that are required to overcome the hesitation and complete the action. For example, from start to finish, prior to hesitation, right up to and beyond the point of hesitation into completing the action or situation successfully.


Practice failing with the apprehension and succumbing to hesitation, be there physically, technically and/or using visualisation. Use this time to realise that worst-case scenarios are never as likely or as bad as the fear makes it seem.


Try and rate the usefulness of your actions out of ten based on the two options present; 1 – act decisively or 2 – hesitate on acting. Be dispassionate and objective in your ratings. Try to recognise the pros and cons of each option in terms of the outcome.


Try and harness some perspective on the hesitance itself. The frustration that you experience from the fear or apprehension causing this hesitation is highly likely to have vanished altogether within the next few months after you have conquered it, so remember that. Every obstacle is a challenge and represents a chance to develop. Try and remember what was bothering you in terms of fears, apprehensions or hesitance 12 months ago, bet you can’t!.


Ask yourself, what in all honesty is the worst thing that could happen from making a bad decision, and what could happen from hesitating too much, either way, the chances are you aren’t going to die, the costs of the bad decision are rarely worth hesitating over unless the decision is one of life or death


Try to remember that you are brave, strong, determined, resilient and talented. Think back to the last instance where you felt apprehensive or scared which resulted in hesitation. Recall vividly how you faced this, overcame it, and delivered a swift and instinctive action. Remember your strengths, remember your successes, and remember that this current apprehension can and will be overcome in the same way.


Know your exit strategy, should the hesitation come from overwhelming apprehension know your way out of the instance to enable you to regroup and come back again. Trust your body and your skills, this is key as control is vital. Remember that so long as you’re doing everything within your control, and you stick to your task then freezing up will be minimized.


Right before training or right before you leave for training. Write down the thing that is making you hesitate. Write it on a piece of paper. In big bold letters write the words fuck it over the top. Ball that hesitation up then tell it to go fuck itself and throw it away.


Before you start training try out the slaps challenge. Stand in front of your coach or a teammate and starting very slowly, slap each other just making very slight contact, keep slapping and building speed, still with very slight to no contact. Eventually, after a minute start making full contact but also trying to block or evade the slaps, remember you aren’t looking to hurt each other, just to confront the fear and be comfortable and accepting of its inevitability.


Finally, physically prepare, try what feels best for your arousal optimum performance, either psych yourself up or calm yourself down. Try both prior to engaging in the activity and when you are ready to go, say the words FUCK IT to yourself and get started. If the hesitation gets the better of you, just accept this by acknowledging and then say FUCK IT again to yourself and get stuck back in.


I help MMA athletes achieve their full potential. Feel free to reach out to me on Instagram 👇🏼

Or you can find a whole range of exercises over at MindSport

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Talia Shaw


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