Athlete Journal: James Kearns, Entry 6 – 2/12/2014

After every tournament, I always evaluate my performance with my coaches. This week I analyzed what happened on the mat during the match that prevented me from executing my game plan at my last match.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the athlete journal of James Kearns. James is an active Brazilian jiu jitsu competitor and also trains and competes in Olympic weightlifting.Follow his journals here every week.

Athlete Journal Entry 6 – 2/12/2014

It has now been one week since my last Brazilian jiu jitsu competition. Following every tournament, I always evaluate and reevaluate my performance with my coaches. As anyone who has ever competed knows, this is the time that the biggest improvements in your game will happen. I already know how I lost one of my matches, but now I need to figure out why it happened and what I need to do to prevent it from happening again.

During my evaluation the first thing I will review is what happened on the mat during the match that prevented me from executing my game plan. My biggest problem in my last match was that I could not break my opponent’s grip off my lapels. Whenever I attempted to set up the takedown, he would stiff arm me and I couldn’t get a good shot at his legs. So, after going over my match with my coaches, I have added a great takedown that can be done even when an opponent has the death grip on my lapel, and also a very easy and effective grip breaker straight out of a judo class. Now that my coaches have shown me these techniques, it is up to me to drill them constantly so the next time a run into an opponent who is strong, has good leverage, and an even better grip, I will not be thrown off of my game.

The next thing I will evaluate is whether anything negatively affected me off the mat, such as environmental factors. This can be anything from, the amount of food I had at the tournament, to how much sleep I got the night before, to how much time I dedicated to a proper warmup. There were two things that I did not do properly off the mat.

One was that I arrived late (due to my own fault) and had almost no time to warm-up and the other was a complete lack of focus. For this competition I stayed with my brother-in-law, who lives in Philadelphia. While I enjoyed hanging out with him and seeing his new house, I never got focused on the tournament that evening. It was like I was there hanging out with my friend and was just going to jump in the competition for a couple minutes, then go hang out again.

I normally spend a great deal of time focusing on my upcoming competition using a lot of imagery and self-talk. I concentrate on my game plan, picturing all the scenarios and positions that I have trained for. I picture past successes to remind myself why I will do well. I also like to picture past failures even though most sports psychologists say you should not do this because it may lead to negative self-talk. For me, it reminds me that I am now prepared for situations that have caused me failure in the past and why they will not cause me failure today.

Even though I lost one of my matches last week, I have added some new techniques that will serve me well in the future and I learned that I must rededicate myself to focusing on the task at hand. I am now a more complete Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioner because of my loss, and that is the most important reason for competition.

As for my weightlifting, it is not looking good. I still have not been back in the weight room due to my back, but this week I am planning on going in and trying to do what I can. Without an MRI, I was diagnosed with at least a bulging disc in my lower back and was given an anti-inflammatory and recommended to see the chiropractor. Thankfully my BJJ training will not be affected as of right now, but after talking with the doctors and my Olympic lifting coach, competing in weightlifting this year has been put on hold.

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