Headed to the Easton Open for your first jiu-jitsu competition? While this is an excellent opportunity to dip your toes in the competition waters, it still might be pretty intimidating.
To help you combat first-time jitters, we talked to a handful of experienced members and asked for their advice for first-timers. We’ve outlined their recommendations below, and we hope this advice helps you have the best competition experience possible!
First and foremost, understand that this experience is fleeting. It will be done before you know it, and you’ll want the memory to stick. Look around, and soak it in.
Feel the mat under your feet and the gi resting on your skin. You can use mindfulness techniques like grounding into your breath and observing all of the sensory experiences – sound, smell, touch – to help you stay present. You may or may not do more competitions, but either way you’ll want to remember this one. Breathe and keep your mind in an optimum place by staying mindful and not overthinking.
Avoid the Adrenaline Dump
This adrenaline rush is no stranger to competitors. You know those nervous jitters you get right before something important? Though this might be helpful in some scenarios, it isn’t during a competition.
The coaches recommend getting your heart rate up beforehand. You can do this by jogging, flow rolling, stretching, or anything else that will get your body moving. Ideally, this will prevent a huge adrenaline dump as you step onto the mat.
Have a Game Plan
Know the first move you plan to make and get ready to hit it before your opponent. Have an idea of what techniques you’ll do from each position. If you mess up or don’t get your move correct, oh well, move on.
Trust your jiu jitsu, and don’t overthink things. Stay relaxed and keep your mind calm; a calm mind thinks more rationally under pressure.
Communicate with your Coaches
This experience is a collaborative effort — by no means are you stepping into the competition alone.
Create a game plan with your coaches, but also communicate with them about any stresses or concerns you have. The coaches want to help and support you through your journey! Open up and be vulnerable. Likewise, be prepared to trust their advice.
Don’t Care About the Outcome
It might sound cliché, but have fun out there! This is your very first competition and the outcome ultimately does not matter.
Avoid putting any unnecessary pressure on yourself by expecting to win. Likewise, support your teammates regardless of their outcomes as well. Enjoy the experience, the community, and the jiu jitsu!
Show Up Prepared
Competitions can last a while. Be sure to come with supplies!
Bring a change of clothes, plenty of water, snacks, tape, band-aids, etc. Sometimes, you can wait around for a few hours before your round begins. Be prepared to hang out just in case your round doesn’t start right away. Oh, and don’t forget your gi and mouthguard!