Don’t Do The Tournament Before The Tournament

29/03/2016- 10.20pm

As I approach the end of day 3 of 5 of water loading (minimum of 5 litres a day) ahead of weighing in on Friday to fight at the Turkish Grand Prix this weekend, I am looking over the booklet I received at the recent Super Seminar, presented by highly regarded nutrition and lifestyle coaches Paul Ehren and Cain Leathem. Whilst I flick through the pages, recalling some of the key points of weight cutting, fat stripping, mental health/attitude to name a few, I think back to earlier points in my competitive when 3 days out from a tournament, I’d be thinking about nothing but fighting (randomly and visualisation training). Now, although personally I don’t feel this ever affected my fighting performance, I am certainly inclined to take the opposite approach. Although fairly impossible to forget about the weekends pyjama violence ahead, I feel the more energy that can be conserved physically and mentally can lead to the opportunity for a successful, fresher and more enjoyable competition. Training and preparation must go on so I’m not saying head off on holiday for a few days beforehand (!), but I do think it is important to provide yourself with distractions/coping mechanisms to stay relaxed in those final days before competing; below I have listed a few of my own methods to not overthink the up coming fights.

  1. Weight Control- The majority of combat sports are weight controlled, so I use my weight cut as a prominent point of focus for the week building up to the tournament; weighing my food so I know I’m reaching my nutritional goals, looking for ways to make the ‘meals’ a little tastier, liquid intake, supplement use etc. I really feel this is an area I can absorb and distract myself into, another advantage of it is, the better I make weight, the better I fight! Win win!

2. Training/preparation- Obviously as the food intake decreases (for reasons see above!) this will then, more than likely, begin to lower the energy and motivation levels. I aim to treat the training that week as work, regardless of how I think, feel or am performing within the sessions. In the randori (sparring) I give myself a target of the number of minutes I would like to accumulate, however besides this I do my upmost not to think about training altogether. If I need to do extra weight control/fat burning, normally a 40 minute run at medium pace, in the final build up, I tend to download a new album to listen to on to my iPod, I find this gives me a point of focus away from the lowering energy levels.

3. Keeping Busy- Quite simple really, when I’m out teaching in between training sessions I have less time to dwell on the up coming weekend’s tournament. If, for example, this week the schools are off for the easter holidays, I aim to keep myself occupied in a few different ways: reading, watching TV series or movies, blogging (!) etc. Another preference I have, probably due to being borderline OCD, is to make sure that before I depart for a tournament that everything I own is in order: all clothes are washed, bedroom is hoovered and tidy, car is cleaned inside and out. This is, of corse, the old Samurai ritual before going into battle, they would make sure everything was sorted so that if they were to die then no one else would be put out having to do their chores! For me, I like to know that when I leave for a competition that everything is in order, then when I head home I don’t have to return to a dive. If I was to die though I’m fairly sure my stuff wouldn’t stay tidy or in the correct place for too long, living with 15 other blokes can lead to the odd bit of ‘borrowing’ from time to time!

Well there goes another hour of fight week, 60 minutes closer to weigh in, and 60 minutes closer to another opportunity to take a place at this summers Rio Olympic Games. Thank you for taking the time to read this post, I look forward to writing another when I get out to Turkey and into the thick of it!