The Mental Game in Combat Sports
When it comes to combat sports, there’s no doubt that you need technical ability. Not only do you need to know how to attack at the right times, but you also need to know how to defend and how to deal with nearly every circumstance that may arise. However, there’s an aspect to combat sports that should never go forgotten; the mental game. You could have the best technique in the world but, without the required mental capabilities, this will be worthless when it’s time to compete.
Below, we’ve compiled some tips that should help you get the mental side of competitions down to perfection!
Find What’s Right for YOU!
Before anything else, we should say that there’s no magic formula that will get you into the right mindset. While some need to dedicate the whole day to prepare, others like to have as normal a day as possible before then preparing mentally a couple of hours before the event. It doesn’t matter if you’re competing Crossfit, or running a marathon, if you find you need the whole afternoon or just one hour, don’t let anybody steer you away from what works. Sure, it’s always good to have an open mind and try new things but there’s no use in keeping practices that simply don’t suit your needs.
Get Enough Sleep (and Eat Well)
Before we head to the day itself, your body needs to be in peak physical condition and this can’t happen until you’ve had a good night’s sleep. On the same note, you’ll also struggle to perform with a poor diet so give this some consideration in the days leading up to the competition. With the right foods and a good amount of sleep, you’ll feel as good as is possible before a competition. In some cases making weight may limit your ability to eat well, but staying hydrated is key to optimal performance.
Embrace the Nerves
No matter how many times you enter a competition, you’re always likely to experience some nerves. Do you think Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather don’t feel a little nervous before going out to fight in front of thousands of people (and millions watching at home)? The reason they can still perform is that they accept the jitters, they accept that it’s natural, and they accept that getting knocked down can be humiliating. Yet, they know how hard they’ve worked and how good they are at their craft. A guy like Connor shows up to every Boxing class, MMA class, Jiu-Jitsu class, Muay Thai class, and he trains daily on cardio. This makes stepping into the ring and into the Octagon just another day for these athletes.
Find Your Optimum Space
What do we mean by this? Well, some in combat sports like to spend a few minutes with their eyes closed thinking about their ‘happy place’. In the interest of finding what’s right for you though, you need to experiment with what allows you to perform under pressure. Sometimes just some 1 on 1 time with one of your personal trainers will help up stay focused while eliminating some of the outside noise.
For example, some need to listen to music before an event, some like to have a laugh with friends/family, others don’t want to see their friends and family at all because they panic about ‘letting them down’. For a few, they need to get into a character (i.e. adopt a new persona completely different from their own). Whatever suits you, stick with it and find your optimum space for performance.
Don’t Think Too Much
To finish, we’ve seen too many people constantly thinking and this leads them to do things they have never done in training. Once again, if we bring it back to the likes of Mayweather, they know their strengths, they know what they’ve trained in preparation of the fight, and will stick to it. As they say, you need to train consciously and fight subconsciously; in other words, just let go, never stop pushing, allow your training to take over, and you too can become a champion!
While on the note of paying attention to your training, you should also pay attention to your coach; they can see what’s happening from a better perspective (and with more experience behind them too!).