How To Overcome The Pressure Of Competition In BJJ

The atmosphere of a BJJ competition will definitely rattle your nerves. The feeling of immense pressure, especially if you are new to competing (or may have been on hiatus), is an everyday reality that all competitors face. Feeling pressure is completely normal – even world-class competitors still feel anxious before their matches. To compete is a great honor and is something that most people won’t even dare to try. Today, we will teach you how to overcome the pressure of competition in BJJ.


Why Should You Compete?

Some people are natural competitors. It is important to compete every once in a while to get out of your comfort zone. In this way, you can assess your current skill level and understand what you may lack in your current skillset. Competition is an excellent indicator if your techniques will work against a fully resisting opponent determined to hurt you. Competing plays a significant role in our development inside and outside the mats.

Through competing, you will better understand your strengths and weaknesses. No one can take away the experience and knowledge you will gain from the competition mats. According to Fabio Santos, a Jiu-Jitsu coral belt and former student of Rolls Gracie, one tournament is equivalent to taking thirty classes. It is a reality check to have someone go at you a hundred percent.


Overcoming The Pressure Of Competition In BJJ

As the day of your competition approaches, your focus should solely be on performing at your best. The months of hard work will be put to the test, along with the inevitable feeling of pressure and anxiety. The pressure of competition is something that you must experience first-hand to get used to it. 

Here are some tips that can help you overcome the pressure of competition.  


1) Create A Game Plan

bjj open guard

Having a game plan will give direction to your matches. Practice your A-game and fill up the holes in positions in which you may lack proficiency. 

An example would be to take your opponent down, immediately pass the guard, maintain the pin, and attempt a submission if there is still time left. Make sure that when your initial plan fails, you are prepared to play guard and regain your composure for opportunities to counterattack.


2) Become Comfortable In Bad Positions

bjj training

In addition to having a game plan, knowing how to escape bad positions (if you ever end up in one) will give you the confidence to attempt submissions. Knowing that you have escapes from every bad position when things go wrong will remove the doubts in your head.


3) Treat The Competition Like Training

bjj females competition in gi

Treating competition like it’s just another day of training removes any unnecessary pressure. This allows you to react with intent and technical efficiency. Do not rely on the adrenaline built up by the moment, as it may gas you out immediately. Fight like there is nothing to lose.


4) Focus On The Competition  

Set aside your other goals for the time being. Besides BJJ (especially as the competition comes close), thinking of other things may be detrimental to your physical and mental preparation. Working on multiple goals simultaneously rarely ends up well and will only add more pressure on you. Focusing on the competition includes knowing the tournament’s ruleset you are taking part in. Do this so you can create a logical game plan.


5) Set A Goal  

Know what you want to achieve in joining the competition. If your goal is only to gain experience or perhaps regain your momentum after a long hiatus, it is unwise to put pressure on yourself by aiming for gold.


 6) Develop A Well-Rounded Game  

bjj back mount control

Develop a decent game in every position, be it from stand-up and on the ground. Knowing how to properly perform and defend against a takedown instead of butt scooting without applying connections is a good start. Be wary of techniques that may give you point deductions, or worse, disqualify you from your match. A well-rounded game will lessen the pressure on you having to make large adjustments to your approach.


7) Enjoy Your Time  

Happy high five

It is not wrong to also think about rest/recovery, provided that you have done the work, of course. Like they say: train hard and rest hard. Even MMA greats like Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson enjoy playing video games to relax after a tough training session!


8) Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself!  

bjj students in gi fist bumping

Keep in mind that no matter the outcome of the competition, you will come out as a better version of yourself. Many people will live their lives without knowing the feeling of intense competition – be proud of yourself for doing something difficult. Remember to perform to the best of your abilities so that you’ll have no regrets.


9) Monitor Your Weight Days Before The Competition  

Monitoring your weight helps you keep track of your desired division without having to move up or down that much. Competition is already hard in itself, don’t add more pressure by forcing yourself to lose weight in a short span because you got fat. BJJ competitions usually do same-day weigh-ins, so avoid cutting too much weight because it may affect your performance.


10) Be Prepared  

andrea galvao bjj world jiu jitsu championship

This is no secret. The more you train, the more confident you will be. You must train both the mind and body so that you’ll be fully prepared to compete. Practice mindfulness to train your mind to handle difficult situations. This will enable you to stay in the zone as you go out and do your thing. 

Be prepared physically as well. Work on your strength and conditioning and assume that you’ll have many matches on competition day.


Final Thoughts

Competitions are what make our BJJ journeys exciting. Competing in tournaments will show you a side of yourself that you rarely see. The pressure of going against a fully resisting person who is out to win can be a daunting task. It is therefore important to apply all the tips mentioned above. Have fun and enjoy the process!


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