Anticipative response analysis for elite boxing sport

PhD A.O. Akopyan1
PhD S.I. Teplyuk1
M.I. Egorov1
L.A. Kulagina1
1Russian Scientific Research Institute for Physical Culture and Sports, Moscow

Keywords: boxing, anticipative response, prediction, training stage, sparring fight, efficiency, tactics, topicality, elite boxers.

Background. Elite athletes are known to develop a sort of competitive instinct i.e. the ability to find solutions to every tactical challenge to effectively respond in a split second almost without thinking; with the action rethinking (and verbalizing when necessary) often being retrospective. This competitive intuition comes as a result of sound and versatile competitive experience, deep multisided knowledge, perfect technical skills, attention to the partner/ opponent actions and good situational prediction/ anticipation qualities – that put the fight control process on a partially proactive basis.

Prediction/ anticipation of the opponent’s action in the modern elite boxing includes both a probabilistic prediction and proactive response elements in the bout, with a special role played by the semi-instinctive/ anticipative responses to the indications of the opponent’s movements, countermoves and attacks. The anticipative responses are efficient enough when developed with harmonized contributions from the specific individual mental processes [1]. Thus a modern training system shall give a due priority to the anticipative responsiveness development tools, with the relevant qualities claimed by the technical, tactical and mental conditioning domains of the training process as they are often critical for a competitive success.

Many researchers mention the need for anticipative response analyses with an emphasis on the age specifics and sensitive development/ excelling periods to offer efficient customizable training methods, otherwise the efforts to improve the multiannual education and training process may not be successful enough [2].

Objective of the study was to make a theoretical analysis of the anticipative responsiveness development issues for modern elite boxing sport.

Methods and structure of the study. The study was performed at the Combat Sports Center of the Russian Scientific Research Institute for Physical Culture and Sports. It was designed to profile anticipative responsiveness in elite women boxers based on the simple visual-motor response and choice response rating tests with application of a torso dummy equipped with the punch-testing sensors [3]. Sampled for the tests were the 19-21 years old elite women boxers (n=18) of the middleweight class (57-69kg).

The visual-motor responses were rated by the fixed-point-punching test, with the punches targeted in some point on the dummy torso or head. The choice responses were rated by the discretionally pointed (head or torso) and variable (crosses, hooks, uppercuts) punches. The dummy was equipped with 9 sensors in the punching points. The athletes were required to land punches as fast and accurate as possible from the same arm-length distance.

Study findings and discussion. The simple and complex video-motor response test data (net of the prediction time) of the women’s sample were found to vary within the range of 0.461±0.06s and 0.828±0.11s, respectively, with the complex responses requiring 44.5% more time on average.

It should be mentioned that presently the sport science offers no provisions to help train and excel the anticipative responses in combat sports, and this was the reason for us to develop and offer an anticipative response rating method applicable in competitive bouts and sparring. Having analyzed the sparring and competitive processes, we quantified the anticipative response driven attacks. Analysis of the sparring fights at the special training stage in elite men’s boxing sample (n=12) found 268 out of 654 registered technical actions (40.9%) driven by anticipative responses to the opponent’s actions; with many of the successful attacks facilitated by the prior feint actions geared to provoke predictable responses from the opponent.

At the pre-season training stage, the sample was found to take 398 anticipative-response-driven resultant attacks out of 832 technical actions (47.8%). Given on Figure 1 hereunder is the analysis of the anticipative-response-driven attacks of the men’s boxing sample, for the pre-season training stage prior to the 2017 European Championship.

Figure 1. Anticipative-response-driven attacks: men’s boxing sample (n=20), pre-season sparring training stage, %

The same tests and analyses were made for the women’s elite boxing sample (n=12) in the sparring fights prior to the top-ranking international events. In the 85 sparring fights we registered 248 technical actions including 118 (38.7%) resultant anticipative-response-driven ones.

Furthermore, the gender-specific anticipative responses were profiled versus the fatigue rates in successive sparring fights, with the opponents replaced in every round by the fresh ones. Given on Figure 2 is the anticipative response versus fatigue profile of the men’s sample.

Figure 2. Anticipative response versus fatigue profile of the men’s sample (n=10)

The anticipative response versus fatigue profiling data show the anticipative response sagging trend, with the resultant anticipative-response-driven attacks falling by 9.4% in round 3.

The same tests and analyses were made for the women’s elite boxing sample (n=12) in the sparring fights prior to the top-ranking international events showed the efficiency being lower than in the men’s sample, as demonstrated by Figure 3 hereunder.

Figure 2. Anticipative response versus fatigue profile of the women’s sample (n=12)

It may be concluded that the anticipative response versus fatigue profile of the women’s sample shows the elite women boxers being more sensitive to fatigue in the anticipative response domain.

Conclusion. The anticipative-response-driven technical skills and actions are critical for success in the modern elite boxing sport. The modern boxing training systems need to be upgraded to offer a variety of efficient training methods and tools to develop and excel the anticipative responses and the associating technical toolkits.


  1. Akopyan A.O., Kulagina L.A. Reaktsii antitsipatsii v bokse [Anticipatory responses in boxing]. Vestnik sportivnoy nauki, 2016, no.  6, pp. 3–7.
  2. Antitsipatsiya v rannem ontogeneze chelovek [Anticipation at early stages of human ontogenesis]. Moscow: Nauka publ., 1992, 286p.
  3. Surkov E.N. Antitsipatsiya v sporte [Anticipation in sports]. Moscow: Fizkultura i sport publ., 1982, 144 p.

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Subject to the study were the quantitative characteristics of the gender-specific anticipative responses in modern elite boxing at the pre-season training stage. The study data and analyses made it possible to profile the gender-specific anticipative responses in boxing (men's and women's) and judo (men's) sports versus the training stages and fatigue rates. It was found that the technical/ tactical actions driven by the anticipative responses account for 38.7% in modern elite boxing. The quantitative aspects of the anticipative responses were found dependent on the training stage and fatigue rate. In the sparring-based training stage, 40.6% of the scoring technical actions were found driven by the anticipative responses, with the rate growing up to 47.8% at the pre-season stage. The technical/ tactical performance driven by the anticipative responses was found fatigue dependent, with the scoring actions in the elite men's and women's boxing rated to vary round-to-round as 4.6-7.8-3.8 and 4-3-1, respectively.