Eight weeks ago, I embarked on a newly designed training camp for my first tournament as a purple belt. I knew I wanted to be as prepared as possible for my debut so I followed some of my usual routines for mental preparation. Mental preparation is a common topic and everyone does it a little bit differently – which is good! We all have different needs and anxieties. Our routines should reflect our individual differences.
Mindset Training Starts Early
When you start to train heavily for a tournament (or fight/bout/match, etc.), one thing that’s often left out is specific training for your mind. It’s very common to feel anxious, but these emotions must be dealt with much earlier than the week of or day of the fight. For more on anxiety symptoms read my blog post – click here.
Almost every competition training class, where we live sparring non-stop for up to 75 minutes, I would practice my mindset routine to help get me into the “zone”. Yes, that infamous zone where you go into a tunnel-visioned state of intense focus. Nothing else matters except the target in front of you. Your mind quiets and your muscle memory takes over. Psychologist, Dr. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi wrote about the concept of getting into the zone, coined as “flow”, in the 1970s. This mental process just like the physical training requires practice and effort.
Creating My State of Flow
- Read my jiujitsu notes with particular attention to the game plan that I want to use for competition day.
- Listen to a playlist of the music that amps me up.
- Stretch out using yoga movement. Use foam roller as needed.
- Review goals that I set for the competition. (Usually I pick something focused on my own performance, not on the result of the competition.) For the San Antonio Open, my goal was to show up and play my game plan of pulling into closed guard. I had no other expectations for myself.
- With 15-20 minutes before I fight, I stop listening to music. I acclimate to the surrounding environmental noises.
- I review a short list of reminders on my phone. Example: Constant Pressure. I know by reading this quick note, I can keep it fresh in my mind as I step onto the mat.
- Three deep breaths. . . and Go Time.
I trained the day before the San Antonio Open and was able to practice all of the sequences I had planned to refresh my memory. Pulling to closed guard and three sequences of attacks to submissions.
I fought in the Master 2 Women’s featherweight division for purple belt rank. Four of us women fought for the top spot. I won my first match exactly how I practiced – pulling with collar and sleeve to closed guard and then attacking the arm, bailed and submitted by triangle by the third minute of a 6-minute match. Step-by-step, each of these movements is exactly what I wrote down for the game plan. These sequences were my focus throughout the training camp. I came and I executed.
On the other end of the bracket, my teammate won her match and that result placed us together in the finals. We closed out the finals match by a handshake.
In the end, I’m very happy with the result of my hard training and rewarded myself with not one, but TWO Krispy Kreme donuts! Hoping to set up a sponsorship with my beloved donut factory.
For those of you interested, I’ll be opening up a Yasi Fit office in Houston, Texas to work with athletes to help improve their mental game. I hope to get the practice going as soon as possible. More on that when I get the details straightened out!
Until next Monday’s post, train smart and eat well. – Dr. Yasi