They snarl at each other, flail their fists and circle their intended prey.
And when the boxing ring showdown begins, it's no wonder the gloved ones pack such an intense punch.
Getting all fired up on anger before a match could ramp up an athlete's performance, a new British study has found.
The research from the University of Bangor aimed to test how emotions affect an athlete's play. Their findings, published in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, showed that revved-up anger was the most potent emotion for adding zeal to a kick or a punch, says lead study author Tim Woodman, a professor in the university's School of Sport, Health & Exercise Sciences.
"We found that effort and performance both increased when we induced a sense of hope of success or anger in our participants," he said in a press release.
Participants recreated a whole set of emotions, from happiness to hope to anger, before performing their sport. The angry athletes improved their performance by up to 25 per cent, but that only happened when they were punching or kicking.
However, trained boxers are discouraged from getting emotional before a match, says Robert Crête, executive director of the Canadian Amateur Boxing Association. They're supposed to keep a clear focus on their strategy instead.
"It would work for the average day-to-day person who wants to hit the bag and get rid of his frustration," he says. "However, athletes are in a different league." Extroverted study participants were also better at expressing their anger, Dr. Woodman noted, because they may find it easier to show emotion in public.
That ring true for you, Mike Tyson?