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Steal This Drill: Chessboxingtennis

I confess that when I first heard about chessboxing on Penn and Teller's Showtime series, I was a bit perplexed; I didn't entirely understand the benefit of combining the two activities. But then I thought: could this, rather than being an entirely new "sport", be utilized as a new training concept for tennis players? With this in mind, I looked around to the limited resources regarding the benefits of combining a physical activity with an entirely mental one.

In various studies, chess-players (when compared to control groups) have been shown to (a) possess significant advancement in spatial, numerical and administrative-directional abilities, along with verbal aptitudes; (b) experience a statistically significant gain in cognitive development; (c) have a 15% improvement in math and science test scores; (d) accelerate the increase of IQ in elementary age children of both sexes at all socio-economic levels; etc. Furthermore, an Osaka University study found heightened testosterone and cortisol (stress biomarkers) level in players who completed competitive games of shogi - Japanese chess. In addition, sports - including boxing - release (or secrete) endorphins (help combat stress and pain) and adrenaline (which stimulates heart-rate, dilate air passages, increase muscle strength for short bursts, etc.). Although no studies have been performed with respect to a combination of a cerebral activity such as chess coupled with a physical activity such as boxing, it is not hard to see how jumping from activity to activity forces the brain to adjust from focusing on controlling emotions and making calculated decisions under stress to tapping into the fight-or-flight instinct. In many ways, this is similar to tennis where, on the one hand, you need to be a zen master; on the other, a caged wild animal.

So train your mind my combining hard tennis drills (including sprints) with playing quick rounds of chess (2-minute option on your iPhone), Sudoku or Backgammon during the breaks while the coach is picking up the balls {NOTE: forget about the boxing aspect}. You don't need to do this every day, but once in a while to change things up. See how your mind adjust from performing the physical exercise to mental exercises and how clear-headed you can be while your heart is racing and your body is more focused on catching your breath. Again, the point of these drills is to "shock your system"... to get you out of your comfort zone so that you are better prepared to deal with anything that your opponent throws your way (pre-event counseling). If you think that this is crazy, see the training regimen of elite military forces; they are often subjected to basic interrogation consisting of math or geography questions during high-intensity training. The trainers want to ensure that the soldiers are keeping their wits (and heads) while everyone around them are losing theirs.

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Reader Comments (1)

thank you for this one! i was wondering how the two were related!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa S

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