- Get Enough Sleep
First, a good night’s sleep is important. You’re at your best when you feel rested. Not getting enough sleep will have you feeling weak and sluggish. Now, the trouble with competition is that nerves will probably eat at you the night before. You wake up at 4 a.m. so you can make the drive to wherever the tournament is. You can’t sleep. You imagine the best outcome. You imagine the worst outcome. Your mind is all over the place. Try meditation. But really, what most competitors do is they sleep the previous day. You’re a lot calmer then. Sleep during the day if you have to so even if you can’t later you’ll be reset.
Pro tip: Tournaments last all day. Grab a bench. Put your head on your rucksack and get some z’s.
- Watch what you eat and drink
Be careful with acidic drinks and food that’s hard to digest. You’ll see a lot of people eating pasta or peanut butter cream for good reason. The combination of stress, fatigue and exertion could force food and drink out of you in an embarrassing fashion. Avoid sugar. Although it gives us a momentary burst of energy it goes down in a dump really fast. Drink water and eat light food. Don’t take huge gulps of water. Sip at regular intervals.
- Have a Game Plan Ready
Think of your match as a kind of experiment. You’ve done whatever you’ve done in training so far. Time has come to put it to the test. It might be good enough. But then again, it might not. Don’t think of it as a personal failure. Truth is you’re fighting a human being. You’re pitting your will against someone else’s. Do what you can. It’s all on you. Remember though, it’s just competition. There’s really no need to injure yourself or someone else for a win.
Avoid the pitfall of going over a thousand techniques before the competition. Have a sequence-ready and then if it fails, adapt. For example, you haven’t done any takedowns. You’re really good at the closed guard. You need a way to put yourself where you’re at an advantage. Work on your guard pull. When you get the closed guard, get ideal grips. Don’t grip whatever. You’re looking to sit-up for example. Grab both wrists. Wait for the opponent to posture up. Then look for your kimuras, guillotines or hip bumps. If game plan A doesn’t work, try B. Don’t have one? Adapt.
- Find your ideal weight
If you’re anything like me or all other competitors your weight is somewhere in the upper or lower limit. Ideally you’ll be somewhere in the upper limit. It’ll give you an advantage. You’ll have a choice. Gain weight or lose weight. The trouble with losing weight is that it can leave you feeling weak. It’s just not worth being heavier than your opponent if your arms feel like lead. Try it out though. Look it up on google. If you lose the kilo or two in water weight you could hydrate really fast. Don’t do this if the weigh-in is before your first match.
- Warm up
Your nerves will probably play a huge part during your first match. There’s a way to kill them. Warm yourself up. This will regulate your heart rate. Your breathing will stabilize. You need the movement that’s easy to do and doesn’t put a lot of stress on individual muscle groups: baseball slides, hip escapes, move your core, wrestling shots, shoulder rolls, granby rolls. Whatever works for you; just warm yourself up. Thank us later.
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