Coach Eric Nicksick explains importance of understanding fighters’ motivation

Eric Nicksick, Francis Ngannou
Image via @francisngannou on Instagram

Eric Nicksick has been around Xtreme Couture since 2007 and has worked with fighters from all over the world. As of now, Nicksick works with the likes of Francis Ngannou, Dan Ige, Jessica Eye, Puna Soriano and Jeremy Kennedy to name a few.

Nicksick has an excellent success rate with his fighters, and he believes that’s due to his dedication to understanding why they fight.

In an interview with the On The Mic podcast, Nicksick detailed why he believes knowing his fighters’ purpose is so critical.

“That is my style of coaching, it might not be for everybody but I have a very close fraternity of guys that I lean on like Marc Montoya, John Crouch, Trevor Wittman, guys that I stay in close contact with and the one common denominator that I see about those coaches, is exactly what you said,” Nicksick said. “I have to know my fighter, I have to know what pushes them. What did they get in this sport for? What’s their why, if you will. There’s times when you get a guy on the stool and [me] being a football guy, I can’t grab everybody by the face-mask and just yell at them. Not everybody responds the same way.”

While some coaches focus on skill and pulling the most out of their fighter from a technical standpoint, Eric Nicksick believes knowing his fighters on a personal level is what can be the driving force to getting them to a championship mindset and performances.

“Knowing your fighters and knowing the way you need to deliver a message is imperative because some guys and some girls respond differently,” he said. “So getting to know them and understanding what their why is — it’s something I learned from Coach [Robert] Follis years ago. You have to have that trigger to where, when you’re deep in the trenches and you got to get that extra push, is it a family member, a wife, a kid? Is it a position you were in when you were young?”

One fighter Eric Nicksick has had to dig deep with is heavyweight contender Francis Ngannou.

“With Francis for example, here’s a guy who tried to cross The Strait of Gibraltar 11 times from Morocco to Spain to seek refuge, so when you get him in a situation — and I’ve had him there — where we got five minutes left on the clock, and you’re tired, right? You’re going to not push for those five minutes after all the stuff you’ve been through in your life? You question him on that and then right away, he finds that spot where he needs to dig deep and that’s where you get it out of them.

“You got to know your fighter, you got to know what their why is, and what they’re dealing with in their lives, and all that stuff. It’s a full-time job for sure, but I tell you what, once you hit those triggers, you know where you need to pull and where you need to push, and everything else with your fighters.”

The success of Xtreme Couture over the years cannot be questioned, and much of that success can undoubtedly be attributed to Eric Nicksick and his special approach to coaching.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 3/27/2020.