No matter what your goals are for your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition is a fantastic learning tool, and it will help you improve your BJJ faster. Most people who train aren’t trying to pursue BJJ as a professional career, but we all want to reach our full potential and do well in training. Competition is the perfect way to jump out of your comfort zone, and really test your skills. Win or lose you will learn a lot about your Jiu Jitsu, and what you need to work on. It will paint a clear picture of what holes need to be plugged in your game, and give you motivation to get back to training to fix your weak areas. Preparing for the tournament will also help give purpose and drive to your training, so you can get the most out of every session.
Allow yourself 6-8 weeks of preparation in order to clean up your diet, get consistent hard training, and practice your game plan. Ask your Prof./Coach and your teammates with competition experience how they like to physically, and mentally prepare for a tournament. You must have a game plan that will enable you to achieve your goal. For example, if you like to pull guard you must have sweeps you want to go for, followed by passing options for when you get on top, and then finishes you like to go for after you pass. Be prepared for their common reactions, and create counters for these so you won’t be thrown off.
You don’t want to get to the tournament only to realize your game is on point, but you can’t execute it because your cardio is bad. This is one reason it’s so important to have 6-8 weeks of preparation and hard training before the competition. If you have this you know your cardio won’t be a problem, and you won’t have the fear of gassing out in competition. This being said, you won’t get this cardio unless you train hard and push yourself to the limit. In competition you will get pushed to your limit, so be comfortable with this and know you can push through the exhaustion and fight your hardest without giving up.
When you get to the tournament remind yourself to breath and relax. Don’t let the nerves get the best of you and remind yourself that you have prepared for this moment. Push all the negative thoughts and doubts out of your head, and replace them with positive thoughts and encouragement. It’s your first competition, don’t put needless pressure on yourself. You’ve done all the preparation now it’s time to let your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu flow and have fun showing off.
Once you’re calm and your nerves are under control think about your opening move. Go through the match, and visualize yourself hitting a sweep you’ve practiced, passing their guard, and then submitting. Never picture yourself loosing, instead fill your mind with positive images. Even in training picture yourself at the tournament, imagine all the noises of the crowd, and pretend you’re looking your competition face-to-face. Bring that intensity to your rolls in training, so that you won’t be thrown off guard by your opponent’s aggression thus giving them the upper hand.
Make sure you warm up properly before you compete. It will help prevent injury, and prepare you to fight. Try to do a warm up that you’ve been doing in training so that you can mimic what you’ve been practicing. It will help calm your nerves and get the blood pumping. The first roll in training tends to be a warm up round, and then the following rolls you’re more ready to go hard. You don’t want your first match to feel like that warm up round, so make sure you warm up fully, so that your body is prepared for the intensity of the fight.
Chances are this won’t be your last tournament, so if things don’t go your way don’t beat yourself up, instead learn from your mistakes and get back to training to fix them. Beating yourself up for losing is not going to benefit you in any way. What will help you is watching your matches, and having your Coach/Prof. watch them so they can point out your mistakes. Even if you win it’s still a good idea to have them watch the footage, and get advise. Once you have addressed what it is you need to fix you have just leveled up your Jiu Jitsu, and you’re another step closer to plugging all the holes in your game.
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