Preparing for Competition: Psyching up in the Eleventh Hour

How do you prepare for battle? Many competitors have rituals they follow to get them in the best physical and mental state. Do any of these descriptions fit your pre-contest rituals?

Tournament season is under way in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu world. This means many competitors are cleaning up their diets, stepping up their training and conditioning, and re-establishing their pre-competition warm-up rituals. As in other sports, grapplers must wake up their bodies and minds, spending time preparing both for intense activity – working up a sweat, increasing their heart rates, loosening their muscles, finding their focus.

If you compete, see if you recognize your own habits in any of these pre-performance personae. If you spectate, watch the warm-up area to identify as many of these species as you can.

  1. The Scuttler: Shuffles side-to-side in a wrestling stance, sometimes touching the ground before explosively changing direction.
  2. The Jump-Roper: Self-explanatory. Some Jump-Ropers jump like a pro boxer, effortlessly and efficiently; others jump like a 6-year-old child, exuberantly and awkwardly.
  3. The Tuck Jumper: This jumper doesn’t have a rope. Instead, s/he jumps his/her knees up as high toward the armpits as possible, repeatedly. (I can attest that this movement gets everything moving—heart, limbs, muscles, brain. It’s like a full-body b*tch slap.)
  4. The Pacer (aka The Stalker): Walks back and forth, sometimes with a towel draped over his/her head, resembling nothing so much as a caged tiger. I always wonder if Pacers are rehearsing monologues in their heads.
  5. The Meditator: Focuses inward, either by closing his/her eyes and sitting against a wall or lying down and doing the same, sometimes while wearing earbuds (maybe listening to monologues).
  6. The Napper: similar to The Meditator, though actually falls asleep. (Sometimes transforms into The Snorer, The Twitcher, and/or The Drooler.)
  7. The Scowler: Puts on a game face, and probably keeps up a steady mental chatter consisting of motivational language. Sometimes mumbles to self.
  8. The Pummeler: Works with a partner, maybe a coach, maybe a teammate, to swim for underhooks while standing.
  9. The Full-on Grappler: Another partner-user, who also uses available mat space, if there is one, to basically complete a round of rolling before competing.
  10. The Slapper: There is actually empirical evidence that slapping your body and face before you compete “jump starts” your muscles. Plus, The Slapper may resemble a Russian folk dancer—especially if combined with The Squatter.
  11. The Burpee-er: Sprawls to defend an imaginary shot and then jumps to his/her feet, raising his/her hands in the air like s/he just don’t care.
  12. The Repeat Offender: This is the one that best describes me. It’s the person who has to use the bathroom pretty much constantly before being called to the mat.

Competing inspires many emotions and physiological responses in participants. Different people have different ways of managing these and channeling them into the task at hand: kicking butt. What are some ways you handle the myriad feelings and thoughts that accompany this kind of contest? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

And also, be sure to wish your favorite grappler good luck in his/her competition endeavors!