One of the most common questions I get asked at seminars is something like “How do you prepare for competitions?”
And I completely understand why people ask that question, after all, who doesn’t want to win when they compete.
For years, I struggled with pre-competition nerves, which meant on game day I would often underperform.
It wasn’t until about five years into my BJJ career that I started to understand how to compete.
For me, competition success all comes down to one thing; getting comfortable in your environment.
That’s why the more you compete, the easier it becomes.
You’re more comfortable with the sights, sounds, and smells at a competition.
You’re more comfortable with the pressures of competing.
You’re more comfortable with what it feels like to apply your techniques against a fully resisting opponent.
Don’t get me wrong, you will always get nervous before a match, but you’ll understand that those feelings are natural.
While there’s no way to replace competition experience, there are things you can do to better prepare for a competition.
Here are three tips that will help you have more success when you compete.
Tip #1. Train how you want to fight.
You will always revert to what you feel most comfortable doing under pressure.
If you’re always flow rolling or counter fighting, you’ll revert to that during a competition.
Unfortunately, what you feel most comfortable doing may not be the best for competition.
I’m naturally a counter-fighter, which is fine, except it relies on your opponent making mistakes.
That rarely happens at the highest level.
So I force myself to be more aggressive when training, so I’m more aggressive when I compete.
You have to train the way you want to compete to be successful.
Tip #2. Create a game plan.
Having a game plan is closely linked with the previous tip.
You need to know how you’re going to fight from start to submission, and the likely counters your opponent will try.
Your goal is to impose that game plan on your opponent.
If you can that, you’ll have a much better chance of beating them.
Tip #3. Visualise the competition.
I typically use visualisation in the week before a tournament.
I go through every stage of the competition process from waking up in the morning, to arriving at the venue, to starting my first match.
I try to make my visualisation as real as possible including the sights, sounds, and smells I’ll experience.
Then I play these events over and over in my mind until I’m comfortable with them.
And when I arrive at the venue I follow the same pattern.
I’ve found this makes me much more comfortable walking into a tournament as it feels like I’ve been there many times before.
As I said, there is no substitute for competition experience.
However, these three tips have helped me massively when I compete.
Hopefully, they can help you too.