Martial arts competitions create a fierce challenge for those who practice MMA, jiu-jitsu, karate, taekwondo, and the like. These large scale events are meant to test your skill and bolster your growth as an individual, but can also be a nerve-racking experience for both seasoned and beginner athletes.

While competing, maintaining proper technique, psychology, and fitness will certainly influence your success. So to help get you ready for your next – or first- competition, here are some tips to help you perform at your best.

Tip 1: Warm Up

Since martial arts is such a physical practice, warming up is one of the most important things you can do before competing. A successful warm-up routine can improve your performance, reduce muscle soreness, and aid in the prevention of injuries, making it your top priority.

The goal is to keep as warm as you can without sweating or wearing yourself out, which you can do by wearing sweats and stretching. Then, once you get closer to your set time, you can start a deeper warm-up that involves dynamic stretches such as lunges, squats, and hip openers.

Essentially, your warm-up should be similar to the activity you will be engaging in, progress from low to high intensity, and be at least 10 minutes in duration. This will ensure your body is ready to perform.

Tip 2: Focus & Remain Calm

Being able to properly control your emotions before a competition is a critical skill for anyone looking to compete. Understanding how to deal with pressure and controlling your stress and anxiety will help you remain mentally prepared when your time comes.

One of the most important things to do in this situation is to remain focused on why you are competing in the first place. What made you sign up to compete? What is driving you to continue pushing yourself and testing your skills? Answering these questions can help bring those reasons to the forefront of your mind and keep you focused on your goals instead of your nerves.

Controlling your breath and heart rate is another way to calm pre-competition nerves. You can do this is by taking huge breathes in and out, while making sure you are holding each breath for a few seconds before releasing it. Focusing on this will help calm any anxiety while keeping your mind free of any extra noise that might distract you.

Tip 3: Visualization

Some competitors have found that mental role-playing or visualizing their performance in full detail before a competition can implant positive outcomes in their brains and help them maintain confidence in their abilities and skills. We recommend repeatedly visualizing different positions and techniques you plan on using when competing, as this can trick your brain into having the confidence it needs to pull these off in reality.

By understanding the stresses of competition day and taking the steps to physically and mentally prepare yourself, the more likely you will be to achieve success. Tournaments are a great way to observe other competitors while also learning from people who share the same passion as you, so enjoy the experience, live in the moment, and you will get the most out of your competition experience.