Physically and mentally preparing for a big tournament can be daunting and emotionally taxing. Even something as small as an in house competition can be nerve wracking. So how can you best prepare for these events?
Being faced with the pressure of your own performance and inner goals.
Worry about disappointing friends, family, coaches, teammates and supporters.
Trying to live up to the expectations and you’ve set out for yourself.
Emotions are on high, muscles becomes tense, your stomach feels queasy and your adrenaline starts to rise. All while you must prepare to give the best performance you possibly can!
How Should You Prepare For a Competition?
You Must Prepare MENTALLY!
Preparing yourself mentally is a huge part of competition and some would argue the most important, especially in the case of martial arts or combat sports. Former UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight champion, as well as UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture states, “Although most fighters believe that the fight is 90 percent mental and ten percent physical, they train 90 percent physical and ten percent mental.”
Crucial decisions that can make or break your performance and split second adjustments need to be made amidst a whirlwind of thoughts and physical actions. Having a calm, adjusted and focused mind is crucial to give your best performance!
Be at Your PHYSICAL Peak!
Making sure your body is in peak shape is a huge part of training for competition. You don’t want to be winded or physically fatigued to the point that a big win becomes an unnecessary loss, due to improper preparing your body for the rigors of competition. Muhammad Ali states, “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses — behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”
Eat the RIGHT Foods and Get ENOUGH Sleep!
Making sure you are properly rested and well fueled from following good nutrition. Late nights and a bad diet will have a huge impact on your performance, as well as your mood.
No one feels their best when they haven’t eaten or had a proper night’s rest, having to compete on top of those conditions is going to greatly effect how well you do.
SIMULATE The Competition in Your Head!
Going through situational training in your head is a cliche training method in any sport but, there is good reason for this. Every great athlete, fighter and performer imagines themselves in every situation imaginable. So when these situations arise, they are more comfortable and familiar with it. Rather than being completely blindsided.
Find YOUR Happy Place!
Make sure to find your mental safe space. Some people need to amp themselves up and burn the extra energy surging through them. Others need to sit calmly, listening to music and focusing only on the task at hand. You might even need to smile and laugh a lot, bringing a sense of normalcy and happiness to yourself before your event. Whatever works for you, find that happy place and bring yourself to the state of mind that YOU need.
Just RIDE The Emotion Wave!
Understand that you are going to be jittery, you may even feel nauseous, you may even think what did I get myself into? This all ok, everyone and anyone who has or will compete is thinking and feeling these exact emotions.
Accept this is a natural process of competing and ride that wave. Former UFC welterweight champion George St. Pierre says, “Your body can dictate your mind, so when I walk to a fight a lot of times I'm scared, I'm scared to death, I have a lot of doubts of myself, I'm afraid to fail, I'm afraid to be humiliated in front of everybody; but what happens, I act like it's impossible for me to fail and that my victory is a certainty. So as I'm walking to the Octagon and I act with confidence my body takes over my mind and I become confident for real. As I'm walking I see the change in my mind and when I reach the Octagon I'm a different person, I'm very confident.”
LISTEN to Your Coach or Instructor!
Don’t forget, your instructor has been in your shoes before and most likely, more times than you can count. Whatever advice they are giving you is from expirience, so listen to them! They know what they are talking about and are there to support you and see you succeed!
Let Your Training TAKE OVER and Let Everything Else GO!
You just spent weeks preparing for this very moment and if you can’t trust those hours of sweat and preparation, what was all that pain for? Remember, you trained for this! You worked for this! Trust those hours spent on the mat and all the advice and information you were taught in class and training. It was for this very moment! Do not think! Feel and let your training take over. Bruce Lee says, “The great mistake is to anticipate the outcome of the engagement; you ought not to be thinking of whether it ends in victory or defeat. Let nature take its course, and your tools will strike at the right moment.”
When competing at any level as an athlete or martial artist, it always comes down to your preparation and to quote Bruce Lee, “Preparation for tomorrow is hard work today.” This means not only preparing your body but, also the mind. Making sure to properly rest and allow yourself to experience all the different levels of pre-competition jitters. With the tips we’ve laid out, we hope you have a better understanding of how to be at your best and perform at the highest level that you can! Good Luck!