Dealing with Competition Jitters

Competing is a pleasure and pain for many Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners. Developing an effective strategy to deal with competition jitters is a surefire way to help make your competition experience fun instead of torture.

Some tips to help develop your personal strategy.

  • Compete – the more you compete the more comfortable you get with competing. Getting your first tournament under your belt is one of your biggest accomplishments in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The fear of the unknown is major stress. Once, your body and mind get used to competition, the stress lessons and your anxiety level follows
  • Get Gas – great cardio will set your mind at ease. Knowing you have the condition to compete a handful of 5 minute rounds is a tremendous boost to your confidence before your matches and provides the most bang for you buck during your matches. There’s nothing worse than being dog tired, down on points, and racing the clock. When your conditioning is better than your opponents, you can push the pace and force mistakes. A good gas tank gives you a mental and physical edge over the competition
  • Develop a Warm-up Ritual – develop a 10-15 minute warm-up ritual. This is going to save you from doing 6,000 nervous jumping jacks in the warm-up area. Practice your warm-up every time you train in the weeks leading up to your tournament. When the real tournament comes, ditch the warm-up area madness and chill. Knowing your warmup ritual will reduce the useless nervous bouncing and will ensure you are properly warmed up before your match.
  • Write it Down – have a plan. Keep it short and simple. You don’t need a novel here. You need a basic plan of where you want to take the fight. An example high level plan would the following.
      1. Try for double leg take down. If I don’t get the take down within the first minute, pull guard.
      2. Work for cross chokes and simple sweep. If I get the chance, stand up.
      3. Stay heavy on top and avoid full guard.
      4. Only attempt submission from mounted position. Otherwise, seek to advance to the mounted position.
      5. Only attempt standing guard pass
      • Drill Your Plan – in the weeks before your tournament, drill your plan. Start with little to no resistance and build up to a fully resistant opponent. The more comfortable you are with your plan in training, the easier it will be to execute at competition time. Resist the temptation to learn a fancy new sweep or submission during this time. If something new really catches your eye, write it down and come back to it after your tournament. Share your plan with the person who will be coaching you the day of the tournament. There’s nothing worse than your coach shouting instructions that are completely the opposite of what you have trained for the last six weeks.
      • Get a Partner – going to tournaments solo is okay if you must, but it’s always better to have a partner or team to support your. Make sure you designate someone to watch your belongings while you’re competing. Know who is going to coach you before your tournament. Bring everything you think you’ll need for the tournament. An example list is.
          1. Grappling Tape
          2. Video Tape Рhave someone designation to tape your match so  you can watch it later.
          3. Bananas, Energy Bar, Water, Gatorade
          4. Extra Gi – you don’t want to go home early because your gi wasn’t up to standard.
          5. Music
          6. Jump rope or anything you need to warm-up
          7. Identification and tournament registration papers (in case there’s a mix up, it’s best to have a copy on hand).
          • Have fun – remember you paid to do this. Make plans to go out with your friends and have a good time after the tournament regardless of how you do. Remember, most of the population doesn’t train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Out of the ones that do train, most don’t compete. Just stepping on the mat is major victory and you should be proud. One day, you’ll look back on your competitive days and smile.

          2 Responses to “Dealing with Competition Jitters”

          1. Groundfighting says:

            Man, this really is a great article. I have a competition coming up and I think this has helped me a lot. Thanks!

          2. SGA says:

            Thank you, really like this whole article, it’s got a solid base of good ideas and practices that I’m going to turn into habits!

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