How to Overcome your nerves when Competing in Jiu Jitsu


The first time I competed, I seriously freaked out for a month beforehand. Overthinking everything, worry about all that could go wrong, most of which I could not control. Don’t get me wrong, I usually still have some nerves the day of right before my first fight but nothing like it used to be. So here are the things that help me to fight the nerves and have success on the comp mats.


  1. Getting over the pressure of letting others down. For me I hate to let others down and I think most of us feel that way. But one of the things I realized is my professor knows where I am at. He knows what I'm capable of and not. It's not like I'm going to show up at a competition and magically roll like a black belt. My skill level is the same the day of comp as it is the day before and the day after. So what happens that day doesn't really define me.
  2. Compete for yourself, not other people. In the end, no one will be there when its time to fight but you.
  3. Envision yourself on the Podium. Want it. Believe in yourself.
  4. Think less and just enjoy the moment of the present. All the "what ifs" that are swirling in your head will not change the outcome. So every time you even have a negative thought enter, scream it out. Seriously scream until the thought leaves and then just show up and do your thing.
  5. Be mentally prepared. Competing in Jiu Jitsu, you have to be mentally prepared, present in the moment, the desire to fight, to give it your all, to work hard even when you are exhausted. I’ve seen so many people lose, not from their lack of skill but from lack of mental focus. So get there. One of the things I started doing to help me feel confident that I can “turn on” my mental focus is pick one training session the week before competition to train hard. To imagine every roll that day is like I am competing. From stepping on the mat, to shaking my partner's hand. That is the day I am going to practice my game plan, that I’m going to keep fighting even when I just want to take a break. When I do this, I don’t tell anyone, I just go in and know that it is my day to be mentally focused. It’s a test for myself, much like competition day, and seeing the result of that I can do it in the week gives me more confidence I can do it on comp day as well.
  6. Train Hard! If you kill yourself training you will feel satisfied that you couldn’t have done anymore. Now this is going to look different for everyone. Remember that. If you are a full-time Jiu Jitsu athlete, training hard is going to be 6+ hours of day. For myself I work full time and have 4 kids to care for so I obviously don’t have 6+ hours to train. So for me training Hard is making the most of the time that I have to train. So while I’m there, I work hard and make the most out of the time I have available to train. You know what training hard looks like for you. Give it your all and don’t cheat yourself.


Competition Morning

  • Make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to get to the venue. I like to shoot for approximately 2 hours before my fight time. That way you have plenty of time to get comfortable in the environment. You can check your weight and just get situated in the comp environment.
  • Don’t do anything “different” in terms of eating or drinking. One competition I thought it would be a great idea to drink a 5 hour energy and a double shot of espresso before. I had never drank one of those 5 hours before and my heart rate was so high, I thought I was going to die, literally.
  • Don’t talk about competition that day. Just enjoy being there. And don’t drill any of your “game” while warming up. People are watching.
  • Don’t underestimate your opponent EVER!
  • Go out, Do your Best, and Enjoy the moment.


Things to Remember

  • You learn much more losing than winning.
  • Life should be about growth and competition forces you into an experience that will make you grow.
  • Medals mean nothing and the glory of them really only last for the short moment we receive them.
  • Don’t compete for others, do it for yourself and your own personal reasons. I’ll talk about mine in a future post.