There are many mistakes BJJ students make with respect to competition. They range from putting a lot of emphasis on a bout, even if it’s not at a black belt level. Any tournament you do has its own unique importance, and it’s totally understandable to be nervous before a tournament. On the whole, if you participate in ten consecutive tournaments as a white belt and crush the competitors, that’s awesome because you are ready to move to the next level, and to more competitions. But you don’t want to be obsessed with one specific tournament and actually not be able to compete, or get so nervous that you end up psyching yourself out.The fact is no one wakes up and says, “Today I’m ready to win the world championship!” Maybe Marcelo Garcia and Rafael Mendes do, but, by and large, when most people compete, they’re going to be nervous. So, it’s important to have some tools at your disposal for dealing with nervous energy — things that allow you to channel that energy into productive and positive vibes in the weeks and hours before a competition.
The most important thing to do is to make sure you have a proper warm up. This doesn’t mean doing just jumping jacks or running around the stadium. It’s recommended to get a cross ball or some other mobility tool, and using it to roll out all your tissues for as long as you can on the day of the tournament. This will help to move all your joint capsule fluid through your body. It will help to start warming up your body, without making you tired. And it will also keep you very calm. Using something along those lines is a great way to get your soft tissues nicely supple and mobilized. It’s a great physical thing to do in preparation for a tournament.
If you have finished competing, and have a video of yourself winning a match, think of a song that gives you a lot of energy. Combine the video with the song, and watch yourself winning the match. This builds a positive mindset and overwhelms you with confidence. It helps put you in a winning frame of mind. You have to know what works for you, because at a tournament it’s very easy to slide into self doubt. Nervous energy can also burn you out and help your opponent’s game. And, of course, you don’t want this to happen. Think of times you have been a winner in your training, and channel that energy just before a match, so that they events become blurred together in your mind. Winning a tournament in the future will be as easy for you to imagine as a tournament you’ve already won in class. So don’t forget to project onto a sparring match in class where you just crushed it. Use that as a cue for yourself before you head into a competitive situation, and don’t forget to have a song in your head that cues those feelings of victory.
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