Competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is tough for new competitors and seasoned competitors. Knowing you are the only one in the middle of the fight can be overwhelming. Of course you have a team that helps you train and coaches or Professors that may be in your corner that day, but in the end the win or loss is in your hands.
So how do you get past all the nerves, anxieties and what if's that constantly live in your head the days and weeks leading up to a jiu jitsu competition?
Just like you train your body to get ready for the competition, you also have to train your mind. You have to believe in yourself. Trick yourself into positive thinking. Every time you feel tired, you have to convince yourself that you are energized. When people ask you how you are feeling about the competition, don't answer nervous, say something more positive like "I'm excited"
The other day on the mats one of the girls asked me toward the end of sparring for 90 minutes, "I'm exhausted, aren't you tired Coach Kim?" I looked at her and said, "Yeah I'm exhausted but I don't allow myself to think about it. I have to keep going." The body is much stronger than the mind, it's our mind's that force our body to give up.
In the fall of 2016 I had two back to back competitions where I was arm barred inside the guard. After that moment, I began to panic every time I felt someone setting up an arm bar. A few months later, at the IBJJF Pan Ams, My first opponent was known for her arm bars. I was scarred and nervous, but instead of focusing on all that could go wrong. I focused and psyched myself up to not getting arm barred. Before my fight I stood waiting to be called, saying over and over in my head, "I will not get arm barred, I will not get arm barred". And it worked, I didn't get arm barred!!
Just like we train physically for every competition, you have to train mentally for every competition as well. Don't allow yourself to ever think anything negative. There is no time or energy to waste on the possibility of not making weight or loosing or being tired or whatever your fears are. Fill your head with positive affirmations, "I can do this", "I will win", "I am strong". Imagine yourself on the top of the podium.
Don't allow yourself to complain. Continue to move forward in a positive way. Give your best everyday. Believe in yourself and enjoy the moment. Competition nerves never go away, but it do get better with time and experience.