Whether it’s your first time competing or you’ve been training for years, tournaments can be a nerve-wracking experience. You don’t want competition stress to become overwhelming and get in the way of delivering your best performance. This is where proper preparation comes in.

Armed with a solid approach to getting ready for a tournament, competing can be one of the most fun and rewarding aspects of being a martial artist. You’ll represent your art, school, instructor and, most importantly, yourself. Tournaments are opportunities to grow and it’s worth taking the time to prepare for the best possible experience. Let’s dive right into it.

Build technique with drills and sparring

Both drills and sparring are a fundamental part of training. The difference now is to execute them with your upcoming competition in mind. Ask your master or instructor for insight on forms and drills so you know where to focus training.

When it comes to sparring, pair up and give each other feedback after sessions on certain scenarios. You can then choose to drill any of these that felt unnatural or difficult. After doing this cycle of ‘spar, refine, and perfect’ many times, your reactions to various challenging scenarios will begin to feel much more fluid and natural.

Here’s another useful consideration. Find out what kind of flooring is used at the tournament venue and if possible, practice on it. Concrete, wood, and padded surfaces vary in both grip and feel. Preparing in similar environments to your next competition will increase your sense of familiarity, leaving you more at ease on tournament day and focused on the task at hand.

Body conditioning

The physical demands of a martial arts competition are high. Correct conditioning and stamina are essential and could give you the edge towards victory. A combination of strength and muscle endurance training, along with cardio, will keep you in fighting shape. All of these aspects of training work towards getting your stamina and power competition ready.

To prevent injury and improve your range of movement, flexibility training should never be ignored and be added to every competition training programme.

The importance of rest and diet

Drills, sparring, and conditioning take their toll on the body. To get the most out of your preparation, your body needs rest. The last thing you want the day before a competition is to be burnt out or injured.

Diet plays a vital role in sustaining the high energy levels required for competition and training. Armed constantly with nutrients for muscle repair and recovery, your body gets the most out of training. Eat a fresh, healthy, and balanced diet leading up to the competition and enjoy all the performance benefits.

You’ve practised drills until they feel like second nature. You’ve sparred over and over again. You’ve made the time and effort to condition your body with training, rest and diet. All the hard work to prepare yourself is done. Now is your opportunity to shine and deliver your best performance. Adopt a positive attitude moving forward and you will grow as a martial artist, no matter the result.

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