Competing Without Your Coach: 5 Handy Tips For Competing Out Of Town

Photo by: BJJPix

There have been times that I have traveled to tournaments to compete, and have not had anyone there from my team.  Competing without a coach can be daunting; it’s useful to have someone in your corner if not for anything other than support.  Here are some tactics that I have found handy for competing when I’m out there on my own.

  1. Talk to your coach before the tournament and discuss strategies.  Just because your coach isn’t there with you doesn’t mean that they can’t still help you win matches.  If you discuss what you’re currently working on with your coach, they may have insights to strategies that can work for you on the competition mat. Build a game plan, and if you know who your opponents will be, consider strategizing for them individually so that you feel more comfortable the day of.  Also, if your coach has friends/affiliates in the area where the tournament is taking place, they may be able to offer you a surrogate coach.
  2. Find a surrogate coach.  This may sound silly, but I’ve done it many times when competing.  Find someone there at the tournament that you hear coaching their competitors in a manner that resounds with you, and ask them to coach you assuming you’re not up against their competitors.  I’ve received the highest level of coaching from coaches I had never met before.  Some people compare jiu-jitsu to a language, it never hurts to try to find someone who speaks the same dialect as you do and you may make friends in the process.  I’ve actually had people I knew from Facebook pop up out of the blue and start coaching me unexpectedly at tournaments, very often this resulted in some pretty cool wins.
  3. Listen to your opponents’ coaches closely.  If for nothing else, an opponent’s coach may be calling out the times and scores so you know how you’re doing.  Sometimes an opponent’s coach will call out “Watch out for ____” this can be useful especially if you know a secondary attack off of the defense to whatever their coach is warning them about. Start going for that secondary attack preemptively and there’s a good chance you’ll catch them off guard.
  4. Study the rules.  If you don’t have a coach there to protect you and stand up for you, you need to play that role for yourself.  Be aware of what is legal and is not legal; be aware of the points system for that tournament.
  5. Record footage of your matches.  If you have any matches that go a way you didn’t expect you can then review that with your coach and learn from your mistakes.  Having a third party there to see and analyze your matches immediately after the fact is handy. If that’s not an option having a recording is a decent alternative.

Don’t underestimate the power of having a coach, but remember the vast majority of the coaching you’ll need to win matches happens at the gym.  If you need another person there to help you win, there’s a good chance you already messed up.  Of course, none of these options replaces the value of having someone there to coach you, but they will make things easier and increase your likelihood of succeeding.


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