One of the reason I compete as often as I do, and why I recommend that all people new to jiu jitsu and judo compete as often as possible, is that I slowly pick up all the little things needed for a fun, productive competition experience with every tournament I go to. That’s a long confusing sentence, but I’m not re-writing it because I have to go to bed. Why? Because I’m competing tomorrow. One of those little things you learn is that sleep is very important before a tournament, not so much because you need energy for the matches but because you need mental energy to sit on your a** all day waiting for your matches.
Alright, so lesson #1 of many is get enough sleep. I’ve learned this well. But am I actually going to do it? Probably not this time, but at least I’m aware of the fact that I will have to suffer the consequences of this failure. It will take many more tournament for to actually “learn” this sufficiently to do it.
Speaking of lessons I’ve learned and still don’t follow: visualize your matches. I’ve heard a lot of high-level competitors talk about the fact that they visualize their matches in the hours and days leading up to a competition. You visualize applying your game plan (including plan B and plan C) to the point of victory and defeat. Some people focus exclusively on positive outcomes, and some focus on difficult situations and negative outcomes. Both have their benefits. Both can build confidence depending on your personality.
Whenever I do this kind of visualization, it first stresses me out almost like a real competition match and then it relaxes me. In the end, it always boosts my confidence and focus me through the fog of nerves. So overall it’s a very positive and productive thing to do. However, much like the sleep thing, I don’t do it nearly as much as I plan to.
For example, I’m competing tomorrow, and I haven’t done any visualization. Part of the reason is because the tournament is not very important, and I’m just going there to learn and have fun. But that’s really no excuse. Again, it will take me many more tournaments to really “learn” this lesson so that I actually do it.
To summarize, two of the things you should do is (1) get enough sleep and (2) visualize your matches. I will do neither tonight, but at least I wrote a blog post about it, and that means I am a little more likely to do it next time.
Good luck to everyone competing tomorrow and Sunday at the Grapplers Quest in Wayne, NJ.