Joining your first BJJ competition can be extremely stressful. If you have never competed in anything before, it can be a very nerve wrecking experience! But it doesn’t have to be. With the proper game plan going in, you can physically and mentally prepare yourself for your upcoming matches. Here are 5 things you should consider before your first BJJ competition.
Strategize a Game Plan
As you prepare for your first BJJ competition, make sure you formulate a proper game plan for your training. What kind of moves should you practice? What submissions? Should you play top or bottom?
These are typically the type of questions that’s going to be running through your head. The quickest answer to this would be to ask your coach. He or she will know what your strengths and your weaknesses are. Capitalize on your strongest submission and favorite positions.
However, that shouldn’t be all you focus on. Even if you have a high success rate on submitting your opponent with a mounted Ezekiel Choke, that doesn’t mean you can pull it off during competition. What if you get taken down and your opponent gets you in side control?
A great rule of thumb when entering your first BJJ competition would be to have at least 2 moves from each position. You should know at least 2 guard passes, 2 sweeps from guard, 2 submissions bottom, etc. That way you would have an A and B strategy if your first attack doesn’t work out for you.
Fully Understand the Rules
Since this will be your first BJJ competition, its important to understand the rules. BJJ rules are complex and differ depending on which competition you sign up for.
Some organizations like IBJJF only allow a certain type of Gi uniforms while governing bodies like NAGA are much more lenient. Some events allow you to weigh in the day before and others require you to weigh in just moments before your match. This can vary your weight cutting strategy if you aren’t careful.
It’s important to know what types of moves and submissions are legal and illegal. So, if you are competing, be sure to review what rules apply and what doesn’t. The last thing you want is to get disqualified for a uniform discrepancy or an illegal move!
Rest and Recovery
Make sure you have plenty of rest before your competition. Its crucial to train hard and drill your movements, but its even more important to make sure you are fully rested before your matches.
If you have been heavily preparing for the tournament, put yourself in a training camp, its likely you have been putting your body through a great deal of stress. During the last week before your competition, try to ease up on your training intensity.
Focus more on drilling and sharpening your movements. Focus on getting the proper amount of nutrition and remember to keep your body hydrated. Lastly, remember to relax a few days before your competition. Maybe watch a movie, read a book, or spend time with your loved ones. Keep your mind off Jiu Jitsu for a bit. Its equally as important to rest your mind along with your body.
If its your first BJJ competition, be wary of competition jitters. You will have them. Everybody does – it’s normal! Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned vet, everyone goes through some sort of competition butterflies.
When you first step into the mats, your nerves go haywire whether you notice it or not. You will experience an overwhelming rush of adrenaline. But that’s ok – try to not let it consume you. With all that adrenaline pumping through your veins, you might experience tunnel vision or a shortness of breath. Something you might notice also is your grips. Especially when you’re in that competitive zone, you will be gripping as hard as you can. Keep that in mind during your match – you don’t want your arms to burn out after your first match.
Remember to relax! Try to remember your training, relax your muscles, and keep your grips light. Conserve your energy as much as you can and regulate your breathing. This will make a huge difference to your performance.
Respect the Results
No matter the outcome of your matches, respect the results. Don’t focus to much on the outcome of the match. Try not to focus too much on the win. Instead try to focus on the learning aspect of the game. It may sound cliché but there’s a saying that goes: “there is no losing in Jiu Jitsu you either win or you learn.” And that’s the absolute truth.
At the end of the day, if your opponent bested you during the tournament, you will have gained some experience and some knowledge from it. Learn from your mistake and grow from it. Always be gracious in victory and in defeat. And most of all, remember to enjoy the ride! Goodluck!