Coach's Corner 06/25/2015 - Stop Being Stupid and Wear Your Headgear

So, Amateur Boxing is doing away with headgear for competition. A scientific study has been documented, that backs up what has been known for years by real coaches; headgear does not prevent concussions. Furthermore, it has been found that headgear may actually promote the style of fighting that creates more concussions, due to athletes taking more risks due to the perception that they are protected and the reduced visibility head gear creates.

Here is the issue at hand. Elite amateur athletes are not going to wear headgear in competition to promote a statistically safer style of competition. Nowhere in any of the documentation used to support this, did the idea that headgear in training should be avoided come up.

Headgear serves a purpose in training and should be used in sparring. This is an undisputed truth in any real training center. Don’t let a bad trainer convince you that you are being more realistic or “Thai” by not protecting yourself in training.

Combat Sports athletes depend on their well being in order to make a living. Headgear reduces the risk of facial fractures and cuts, which are the 2 big risks we trainers are always afraid of as fights get close. I have known and just about every other elite trainer I know has realized that concussions will occur no matter what we put on our heads. You get cracked, your brain is going to get hurt. What we want is to reduce the compounding issues that can pile up when getting concussed.

Most elite professionals wear headgear with the big nose bar as fights get close. This is not to stop one from getting concussed, it is to reduce the risk of orbital bone and nose breaks. Why run the risk of pulling out of a fight due to a laceration, break, or contusion? Stop acting like a hard guy and put your headgear on with at least cheek protection - chin and cheek preferred and nose bar of you are 10 to 14 days out.

Let’s have a short discussion about the guys trying to be “Thai”. If you do not train in an open air gym, in a country that is 90 plus degrees with 100% humidity, and you do not fight monthly - you are not being “Thai”, you are being stupid. Muay Thai training in Thailand is done a certain way for practical reasons. The country is super hot and most gyms are open air. Wearing headgear in Thailand is prohibitive due to overheating and increased sweat. Active Thai fighters also do not spar hard because they fight so much. A Muay Thai fighter in Thailand can retire at 24 or 25 with over 100 fights. They fight often and they need to recover after fights while maintaining distance, timing, and physical condition which they do thru hard padwork and sparring that focuses on technical issues, not toughness.

Most fighters in the US fight a few times a year. This requires harder sparring training because they need live rounds to stay sharp and prepared. If you are not getting the experience in competition, you have to get it in training. While getting the experience in training you have the luxury of protecting yourself so the learning process is less damaging. Why would you not protect yourself? Again, why run the risk of senselessly getting injured before fight due to lack of protection?

Don’t take a scientific article about Amateur Competition and twist it to fit your agenda to not wear headgear in training. Like it or not, headgear is good for training and saves people from unnecessary injury that can and will cost you money at some point. If you are a pro, you should value your safety so you can make your money when it counts instead of acting like a hard guy for free in the gym. Be smart and train safe no matter what level you are at.

Brian Wright

Killer B Combat Sports


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