by Mike Velez
It’s a cliché, but being properly prepared for your first tournament is HUGE! That includes; knowing the rules, being on time, being healthy, eating clean, getting plenty of sleep, and being entered in the right weight division. You want to be 100% focused on winning your matches. Being distracted by anything else is only going to take away from that focus. Being in the right weight division means not having to cut weight the week or night before to prevent disqualification. Enter the division that suits you best without having to count on losing pounds before the tournament.
I’ve been there; you get so nervous everything you’ve learned goes out the window when the timer starts. Prior to the match visualize your warm-up, the start, your game plan, being in good spots, being in bad spots, and getting the medal around your neck. This will help to keep your nerves in check when the time comes. The flip side of that is be ready to go with everything you’ve got, because the other guy’s going to come at you hard; harder than you’ve ever spared in class.
Don’t Forget Your Game
Once the match starts remember your game. Bring the fight to your comfort zone. If you’re a guard player bring him into your favorite guard. If you’re a top player, get on top. Remember the other guy’s probably thinking the same thing. If he pulls you into a spider guard, expect him to be pretty good with his spider guard.
Remember The Rules – And The Time
If this is your first tournament, depending on your age or belt, you’re probably looking at a 5 or 6-minute match. Be mindful of the time, if you have someone in the crowd ask them to yell out the time and where you are on points. Don’t forget the points. Yeah it’s great to go for the submission, that should always be a goal (and is the only goal in submission only matches) but remember the points game. If points are within reach go for them. Getting the points will probably put you in a better position to submit as well.
Win or lose, just the act of competing in a tournament is an accomplishment. Relish in that a bit. If you lost, examine your performance, hopefully someone got it on video. Even if there’s no record of it you know where you screwed up or didn’t seize an opportunity. Immediately take notes; what do you need to work on or do differently for next time. If you won, take the same steps to examine how you did. There are holes in your game that might show up next time. Also, use the opportunity to make friends. Years later, I’m still friends with a guy I competed against at my second tournament ever. A tournament is a great way to meet people that are just like you. Heck you’re even the same age, weight, and belt, so when all is said and done make new connections that might last a life time.
If you like these keys check out the article I wrote in Issue 14, 10 Tips for Success at Your First Tournament, you can order it HERE.
What do you think are some more Keys to tournament success? Leave your comments and share this post.