A Reader Question: How to overcome competing for the first time?

A Jiu-jitsu Times reader asks:

“Competition jitters.
I’m super scared of competing for the first time.
But it’s something I wanna do.
How to overcome competing for the first time?”

Jiu-jitsu Times: Pre competition jitters!

This is surprisingly common even among experienced competitors.
Some personalities tend to be very nervous before the tournament while other competitors seem to be unfazed.

Some competitors are so nervous that they feel like vomiting and / or make frequent trips to the washroom!

In contrast, Carlson Gracie Sr. said in an interview that he was so relaxed before fights that he would be sleeping in the dressing room and they would wake him up to fight!

Here are 3 points for you to consider:
1) You are not alone in feeling some fear in anticipation of a tournament.
But try to think of it a little differently than a negative of you being “scared”.

My first martial arts instructor said something that I never forgot about “fear”:
“It is just your fight or flight mechanism going into action. It can help you by making for ready to act in the situation.
It is your minds way of making you pay attention and telling ‘Something important is about to happen!'”

It is completely natural to feel nervous.
Understand that your opponent will very likely be looking across the mat at you and see you as 10 feet tall and superhuman!


2) You will feel better if you are prepared
The time before the competition is not the time to be missing training sessions, being slack with your diet and failing to be consistent with your training.
Confidence arises from knowing that you did your best to prepare for the competition.

Being in your best physical condition is a HUGE factor in competition as exhaustion is a significant factor in most matches.
Cardio, grip strength and standup grappling will all be tested in a tournament match.

Make sure that you have done your homework and are as ready as you can be on the day of the matches.


3) Look at it as a learning experience
One competitor I know (with a trophy case FULL of superfight belts and medals) told me that he felt that he learned more about his jiu-jitsu from one tournament than from MONTHS of classes.
He did not bring home the gold medal every competition, BUT he did learn something valuable about his jiu-jitsu and what he needed to work on for the next competition.

Preparing for the tournament will push you to further heights than you otherwise would have gone in your jiu-jitsu.
You will learn how you react in periods of stress.
You will learn what works and what doesn’t work for you in your game.

On tournament day, only one person goes undefeated in the division.
But ALL will test themselves and learn lessons about their jiu-jitsu.

Now try to set aside those nervous feelings and go have fun!


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