The days leading up to your first championship can make you feel very nervous. Some people never compete or wait a long term before testing the competition mats. Others like me compete almost as soon as they start training. Regardless, these five tips will help you before your first championship. It is important to keep in mind these tips as well as, if you are unsure when or what competition you should signup for your first time, talk to you coaches and teammates who have competed a lot.
1.) Start Small:
(The “Pyramid” home of the IBJJF World Championships)
The goal for the first several attempts at testing the competition mats is just to get experience. To learn how to control the nervous feelings. To learn what things you need to bring with you. How long you need to warmup and what type of warmup. What music you like to listen to or no music at all. There are lots of different little things that can impact your mindset and results the day of the competition. Use local and small tournaments to start to learn what helps you positively and what hurts you. By going to the bigger competition such as the world championship without having these smaller details understood is setting up a bad foundation. It could lead to a negative experience that could make a beginner competitor nervous to try to fight the championships again. The added pressure of the big stage will only increase the difficulty of these early competition jitters. Practice at the smaller competitions and then go to the big championships.
It seems silly but, for many first time competitors this is a challenge. The crowded venue. People selling gear and food. Other teams. Seeing friends and family who came to support you. Checking their Facebook or texting are all distractions. Focus on your job. The focus should be on preparing for your matches and putting on your game (have a game plan!). In BJJ, losing focus even for a short time can be very costly. Not focusing can lead to you getting submitted and going home early. I try to always have my headphones with me so I have music, that way I can block out the noise and focus on the matches ahead.
This is much easier to say then to actually do. It is important to try though. Many times I see nervous guys go out and go crazy in their first match. They get super tired and either lose or get so tired they can not be effective their next match and go out in lose in the next round. Relaxing will not only help you not get tired but, will help you focus. If this is your first championship or you have only fought in a couple there is no pressure. Relax, enjoy the experience and try to benefit as much as you can from it.
4.) Stay in Your Game
Today is not the day to try something for the first time.. Do what you do everyday and force your game. The day of the tournament is not the time to try new things. For example, If you have a really good Arm-drag ( Take a look at my breakdown of the Arm-drag from standing) takedown, do not try some judo throw for the first time. If you like to play guard, pull guard. The idea here is to force the match into the area that is best for. This is important through out all your competitions but, even more for your first competition because it will help you relax when you are in a position you feel familiar with.
I know sometimes it can be hard, especially for those who “hate” to lose, but try to enjoy that moment. You are there because you wanted to be, nobody forced you to be there, so try to enjoy it as much as you can. I remember when I started competing, one day before, or even in the day of the tournament, watch highlight videos from my “idols” used to help me a lot to get inspired for the tournament day. Watching my idols do what they loved and putting on a show motivated me to not only enjoy the experience but, to have the people at the competition look forward to watching me compete, I hoped that they would enjoy watching me compete as much as I enjoyed watching my idols.
If you are training at home, your academy, visiting another academy or at the championship you are still doing BJJ. Do what you do everyday and force your game. Start at the local tournaments to work on developing a plan to learn on how focus on the matches and the job ahead not if the venue has hotdogs or hamburgers to eat. Try and be as relaxed as possible to not waste energy. Most importantly, have fun!! Enjoy the experience and learn as much as possible.
In the video below, on my third episode of my “5 Minutes BJJ Talk”, I talk about “The Day Of The Tournament”, I hope you guys enjoy it.
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