For many people, the prospect of taking your first steps as a BJJ competitor can be pretty daunting. Competition involves you leaving your comfort zone, testing your skills in front of a crowd of people and exposing yourself to an array of other emotions that can only be experienced away from your academy. Here are some of our top tips to help you enter your first competition and make it an extremely positive experience.
Avoid Unnecessary Pressure
No matter how well you perform at your academy, there’s no surefire way to know if you will be able to replicate the way you train at the academy when at a competition. Dealing with nerves, a new environment and opponents going 110% can all play their part, so it is important to manage your expectations of what you want to achieve. Now we’re not saying you can’t aim for, say, a gold medal, but you should not be disappointed if you don’t achieve this on your first outing. Try to focus on your performance and applying your techniques to the best of your ability, and remember to take the positives out of the day – whatever the result!
Don’t Worry About Your Weight
As this is your first competition, we would definitely discourage you from trying to diet or, even worse, cut weight to a lower division. It simply isn’t worth it. Dealing with the hassle of watching what you eat and drink will only add further to the stresses you may be under. Once you have a couple of competitions under your belt, you may then chose to think about which weight class you would perform best in and if it is worth adjusting your diet or weight training appropriately.
Bring Your Coach
In our experience, new competitors feel much more at ease in familiar surroundings if their jiu jitsu coach is able to attend the competition with them. Having someone to talk to throughout the day and offer you some words of wisdom during your match will help you adjust to the new surroundings.
Play To Your Strengths
This may sound obvious, but your first competition probably isn’t the best time to attempt your first flying armbar or inverted reverse de la Riva sweep! Stick to the techniques that you know and try and play your ‘a-game’. This will also give you some good feedback about the effectiveness of your techniques against a fully committed opponent that you’ve never rolled with before.
Try and Warm Up Properly
This is a very important step that we can’t stress enough. Not only will a proper warm up help to prevent injury, it will also help to get your heart rate up and reduce the chance of an adrenaline dump. Ideally, you’d like to take to the mat having already broken a sweat so that you are not entering straight into the match from neutral.
Hopefully these tips will help you on your way to your first competition. Remember, above all else, try to have fun!