In the realm of competition, your mindset can greatly depend on how you prepared. It is critical to prepare properly for competitions, both from the moment you find out about the competition to the day of the competition to the moment you step on the mat. There are some things that are out of your control like the amount of time you have to prepare, certain aspects of your physical state, and many other factors, but focusing on the aspects that are under your control and using those aspects to be well prepared can make you very mentally strong.
Here are 5 ways you can be better prepared to compete:
- Embrace the violence. Most of the time, when we roll at the gym, we shy away from incidental blows, we try to be as polite as possible to those we train with. If you’re getting ready for competition you need to both be prepared to inflict and receive all sorts of violence and pain. When I’m preparing for competition I become downright mean. I grind knuckles in my training partners faces and ribs, I drive my knees into soft areas of the body, I land hard when I pass and when I take submissions I rip at them and use proper breaking mechanics. I focus on training with people that I know well and trust to not allow me to hurt them because the truth is that I don’t want to hurt my training partner at all, but otherwise I roll like an absolute savage. I also place myself in terrible positions and have my training partners do the same things to me. I’m not a masochist, I don’t like pain, but I like to win, and being able to to remain calm when I’ve got a bloody nose a split lip and have someone digging their elbow into my face is the difference between winning and losing sometimes. One of my coaches, Sean Daugherty, once told me “If someone is putting their elbow in my eye, I try to push back with my eye.” It’s a mindset of savagery and it has won me many matches.
- Prepare patterns of movement and drill them, over and over and over again. The more you drill movements the more natural they’ll feel and the more likely you are to be able to hit those movements under pressure. Drilling, especially fundamental positions, will make you way way more effective in competition. Another part of this preparation is to do those movements during live rolling against actively resisting training partners of various size and body composition. The more and the better you drill the more likely you are to succeed.
- Train as much as you can. This accomplishes two things: first it gives you the best likelihood of absorbing data, second it lets your mind know that you’re ready to go. If I’m going to put myself through the rigors of competition, I’d better know that I gave it my all leading up to the competition or else I’ll have doubts the day of. If you trained as much as you could leading up to it, convince yourself the day of that no one there prepared as much as you did. This mindset will help you feel superior to your opponents which will translate to BEING superior to them.
- Be as ready as possible the day of. I like to pack my bags for competition the night before. I like to make sure I know which of my teammates will be there and who will be coaching me. I like to spend as much time as possible training with the person who will by my coach. The night before a match I try to relax as much as possible and sleep as well as possible. Any factors under my control the day before and of competition MUST be as perfect as I can make them. Nothing is worse than showing up to a competition and realizing you forgot your mouth guard or your knee pads or whatever. Once at a competition, I like to relax until about an hour before my matches start, at that point I warm up as well as I can. At some tournaments there are warmup mats. I’ll do solo drills, worst case scenario I’ll even grab someone across the bracket from me and flow roll with them, you’d be shocked how many people will flow roll with a potential opponent, and if they refuse know that by asking you got in their head…
- Relax. No, seriously, relax. Minutes before I step on the mat I try to find someone to joke around with. I like bantering with my soon to be opponents (hopefully victims), ask them what they had for breakfast, how they feel, if they’re nervous. I’ve actually made friends this way. Enjoy the experience. You’ve paid a lot of money for this, you might as well get the most out of it. Try not to overeat after weighing in as tempting as it may be, but make sure you have something light in your stomach. Relax. Breathe.
I’ve used this list of preparative actions many times and the better I follow it the better I perform on the mat. The next time you compete, try it out.
Emil Fischer is a Jiu-jitsu brown belt competitor training under Pablo Angel Castro III at Strong Style MMA in Cleveland Ohio. An avid writer and competitor, Emil has amassed an extensive competition record. Most notably, Emil is a 2 time gold medalist at the IBJJF No Gi Pans, and has a submission victory record of 3-1 at Fight To Win Pro which includes purple belt no-gi light heavyweight championship
Emil’s sponsors are Ludwig Van, Hydrus Performance Hydration, Impact Mouthguards, Cleveland Cryo, CannaBody, Valor Fightwear USA/Valor Fightwear, Meerkatsu, Eddys on Coventry and Nottarookie.