Just finished competing at the first major tournament of the year. The IBJJF European Championship.
My results didn’t go the way I wanted them too. But as I often tell my readers. We can learn a lot from our tournament experience.
We can’t control what happens on the day of the competition. No one can. But we can control our actions and thoughts leading up to our event and what we do after the competition.
For this post, I decided to focus primarily on what goes on in the mind of a competitor before a major competition. Drawing from my own experiences and those of my close friends.
I think the last few days leading up to a competition are some of the most important and stressful.
It’s that period of time when you’ve done all of your physical preparation and there’s really no more time left to add anything new to your game.
All that’s left is the last bit of mental prep.
The more I train. The more I’ve seen the importance of the internal aspects that develop from our training. Some might call it fortitude, or poise. Whatever you want to call it.
This last bit of mental prep can make or break your tournament experience.
I’ve seen athletes that were beasts in training. Beating everyone.
Go into competition looking like a shell of their former self.
The hard truth is that not everyone competes well. Sometimes it isn’t due to their techniques or skill level. But everyone can bring their best self on the day of the competition.
I had to narrow down my list a bit. But these are some of the major thoughts that I’ve had before big competitions.
Did I train hard enough?
No matter how hard you prepare for a tournament. All the drilling, rolling, strength training and cardio. All athletes are going to have some level of doubt in their preparation. You’re always going to feel like you could’ve done more or pushed harder.
A lot of tournament success depends on your preparation. You prepare the best you can but the second part of the equation that many competitors miss out on is believing in themselves.
Believe in your training. Believe in your training partners. Believe in your instructor. Believe in your techniques. Above all believe in yourself.
This is easier to talk about than to develop. It will take time.
The other competitors are more well known
There’s been many times coming up through the ranks when I would have someone approach me. Often before a match. To inform me that my opponent was so and so or won such and such title.
I honestly believe these people were trying to help me. But it often had the adverse reaction. If I was super focused, this would often be enough to let doubt enter my mind.
I’m also sure many of those people wanted to throw me off in order to help their friend I was competing against.
Regardless, you can’t let your opponents past success or your own cloud your mind. Each tournament is different. Believe in yourself and go for it!
What’s my game plan?
This one is highly dependent upon your style. Some competitors follow a strict move A plus move b equals c formula while others have a more improv style.
Figure out what works best for you and stick with it.
I always suggest using techniques that you practice and use during your training.
If you normally play spider guard. Use your spider guard in the competition. Don’t play fifty fifty or some other guard as your main move if you haven’t practiced it.
Will I be on or off the day of?
There’s no way to control this one. The best we can do it try to keep our routines as close to normal as possible.
Have you ever experienced a great roll or day of training where everything was going your way and you performed way above your normal abilities?
If so, try to recall everything that happened on that day like how you slept, what you ate, and anything special that you did to help you perform well.
Once you’re able to pinpoint these things. Try to replicate these factors consistently in your training.
If you’re able to nail this down you will be ready for comp day.
What will I do if I lose?
Again, we can’t control this. In fact, it’s best not to even worry about it. Losing happens. Everyone loses in Jiu jitsu at some point during their career. Don’t dwell on the negative. Even if you lose you hopefully won’t die during the tournament. Although your ego/pride might get a little bruised.
What will I do if I win?
This is a better use of your energy. Instead of worrying about losing. Worry about winning and what you will do after you win.
I know I usually think about how I’ll celebrate after the tournament or how many followers I will gain on social media or how many academies will want to host me for seminars.
For me, each tournament and every competition is a chance to showcase my skills and show the world that I am one of the best.
If you master this mindset you can beat anyone.
There are so many thoughts that will run through your head right before a competition.
You can kill yourself worrying about every possible thing that could go wrong or how good your opponent(s) will be.
Or you can focus on the things that you can control like your preparation before and your mindset going into the competition.
There are times during a match. Especially really close ones where you are evenly matched in skill. When believing in yourself and having a positive mental outlook could be the deciding factor in winning versus losing.