Lessons In BJJ Competition
I often say to the kids, "put your hand up if you like losing?"
Clearly no one puts their hand up.
Unfortunately, someone has to lose in this sport as there are no draws. You win by points, submission or by referee decision.
I hate losing.
In my family we have a saying that first place loser is second place, and if you came third you were beaten by a loser.
I know what you're thinking, that's pretty harsh. But it gives us the opportunity to reflect on what we could have done better and if we were making the best of our training as well as the matches we played.
You can use all the clichés you like about losing like, you get some of your best lessons from a loss. But who goes into a competition to lose? That's right, no one.
But how do we learn from competition, specifically from a loss?
Here are six things that I can help you with from my experience over my time in the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Training - Have you trained enough?
Training regularly will assist in how you are going to fight.
Athletes that train once or twice a week to prepare for a competition don't really stand a chance. What's even worse is when the same athlete who trains once or twice a week leading up for a comp, trains four or five times a week.
They will get injured and burn out. When it's time to compete they'll be lethargic and probably get sick from a cold as they've put so much stress on themselves. We haven't even factored if the athlete has to cut weight either.
Competitive athletes need to be training a minimum of four times a week and have a mindset that their opposition have been training harder than what they have. Just don't over train!
Plan each session you attend, and try your best to execute it. Don't deviate from this plan. Attend regular stand up classes, and listen to your body.
Cutting Weight - The first competition you enter you shouldn't really be concerned about weight. You'll see whether you are in the right division or not when you see athletes in the same division.
Ideally you should be at your competitive weight at least three weeks prior to the competition. This is hard for children as they can have sudden growth spurts so it's best to weigh them right up to the change/check day to get them in the right division. By the way, there's nothing wrong with placing a child up a weight division, just don't use it as an excuse if they lose.
Being at weight three weeks prior to a competition will enable you to see if you can eat and drink on the day of the competition.
If you're stressing about your weight in the week of a competition that will negatively impact on your mindset and performance. I've seen plenty of athletes running to a sauna (if the complex has one) or not drink water which will increase the chances of injury.
Mindset - A positive mindset will pay dividends.
Many athletes will have negative thoughts leading up to the fight, and quite possibly through the fight. Some see their opposition and immediately think negatively.
If you identify this in yourself, start thinking of the positive things you've achieved in your training.
Me personally, I look at my opposition and tell myself that they've never beaten me, and that I am the champion today.
Even before the referee has called me onto the mat I've told myself I've won. I won't let any negative emotion or thought into my head because what happens next is up to me!
Technique - I've trained hard, learnt some new things but I couldn't get out of that damn guard.
I remember a time where I competed in the Philippines in a Nogi competition, only to get stuck under side control for a good portion of the match and it sucked.
When I got back home I discussed with my teammates this sticking point in the competition and straight away the answers came in thick and fast. The best one was, learn more than one way to escape side control.
So that was it, back to the drawing board. Drill side control escapes and start every roll from bottom side control.
Every match we play gives us an indication of where we are deficient irrespective of your attack, defence or escape.
Your last comp may have seen you get the best position for the arm lock, but you struggled to finish it. So, go back to the start and learn how to get it right. Pretty soon you'll be able to execute the correct techniques in those situations.
Match Fitness - Did the match fell like it went for ages or was it quick?
If you are an athlete that consistently looks to the clock, you're unfit. Plain and simple.
You know you're fit when the match ends, and you see your opponent lying on their back, and you feel like the match just started.
It's understandable to be checking the scoreboard if you are competing on your own and there are no teammates or coaches yelling times and points to you. But if you are looking, your unfit and undisciplined.
The more you're looking at the clock, the more opportunities your opposition has to do what they want to do.
Don't look at the clock!
Excuses - You know the saying, excuses and opinions are like but holes, everyone has one.
Making excuses is the worst. You can't blame the ref, the opposition, the scoreboard, the people around you or your emotions.
"Oh but it was overwhelming", so what. Check yourself. You wanted to compete so you knew what were getting into.
For children, let them cry when they lose. Don't mollycoddle them. Let them work through their emotions and figure things out with their coach.
We want to give our kids a cuddle when they are upset, but it's different in sport. They must take ownership of the outcome.
I remember at brown belt expecting to win gold in a big tournament once. I had mapped my oppositions weaknesses and a plan of my matches. The only thing was that I focused too much on the gold medal and not my first match.
I lost on submission with about 30 seconds on the clock whilst I was in the lead on points. I left the stadium crying.
An old teammate laughed at me whilst I was wallowing in self pity. He asked my what had happened and he told me that I was not focusing on the match that mattered. I was thinking too far ahead and not on the task at hand.
So there we have it folks, six things that you can reflect on with a win or a loss from your competitions. I believe that you learn just as much from a win as a loss, it's just how you reflect on your performance as you can always improve.
The Power Of A Positive Mindset
is so important and you should use this everyday.
It's too easy to focus on the negative or make excuses for why you can't or what stopped you.
But imagine if you change the mindset around specifically in our sport?
I have a friend who is a psychologist and he would always tell me that "your energy flows where your focus goes".
The problem is that most of the time we aren’t consciously aware of our internal dialogue, let alone how influential it is.
Our thoughts seem to arise out of nowhere. They are so automatic that it seems we have no control over them. To make the most of self-talk we need to make a deliberate effort to develop it as a psychological skill.
First off you need to become aware of your existing thought patterns.
Lets say you make an error when rolling. Do you criticise yourself for making a mistake? Or do you tell yourself, ‘Never mind. Let’s move on and figure out how to recover’?
Recognising our self-talk can be a tricky business especially in the moment and useful starting point is reflection.
This is hard but think back to a particularly good or bad performance and recall the self-talk that accompanied it. You could even watch video of your previous competitions or recorded wrestles at training to jog your memory.
How can we do this with our sport?
One thing you can do is plan what you would like to achieve in training, whether it's a specific move, escape or submission. Keep a log or diary of your thoughts about training and competition. The benefit of this is that you can track your mental patterns as you go along instead of relying on memory.
This requires discipline and is very hard to do for some people.
Training and competing require different mindsets though.
In training you might also find that there is a teammate that always gets the better of you, so you always look to avoiding them because the little voice in your head tells you your no good or that they will beat you.
These ARE the people you need to train with because they will elevate your skill set without you realising it.
In competition you can't allow the negative thoughts to enter your head and you will only make things worse when you check the profile of an athlete on Smoothcomp and find their stats are pretty good.
Very rarely do I notice of the stats or even look at the profile of another athlete. Especially when I've never 'played' against my opponent before.
I tell myself they've never played ME!
When I'm standing on the edge of the mat before the referee calls me on, I tell myself that I'm the champion, it's my day today. I won't allow any other thought to enter my head as your perception determines your reality.
When you hear your child athlete talk negative, don't focus on what they are saying. Tell them what you saw that they did you thought was good and build on that.
Just remember these two things:
- your energy flows where your focus goes
- your perception determines your reality
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