Several of our students will be competing in Naga this weekend so I thought it would be appropriate to post this quote by John Danaher:
One of the foundations of my coaching approach is to take away the whole sense that competition is different from training. Most people think the two are completely separate entities and will train for one or the other. If you’ve never been in a competitive atmosphere, you’ll never understand the pressure. I take a completely opposite approach. I want my students to see competition as just another day in the gym. When it comes to competition time, they tone everything down.
I mostly see competition as a mental exercise. Obviously you have to be physically prepared. You’ll never be in a great mental state if you haven’t put in the work. But the best competitors tend to be those that make the entirety of the event seem rather mundane. It’s just another day on the mat. Yes, the intensity is higher and you are faced with unfamiliar opponents, so of course you need to bring yourself to a high level of performance, but if the experience produces anxiety then you’ll never be at your best.
So the real trick is to be loose, but not conciliatory, playful, but not sloppy, intense, but only enough to sharpen the mind and body, aggressive, but not to the point where you become too single-minded and miss opportunities. All these things are mental.
It’s also very important to eliminate expectations of outcome. You only have partial control over whether you win or lose. You can certainly make a decision to do your best, but you can’t control the uncontrollable. Don’t make winning the goal. The goal is to be in a serene state of mind that allows the best you to emerge. If you can do that, then you’ll give yourself the best opportunity for victory.