By Elisabeth Clay
This is a question I get asked a lot. While I still have a very long way to go, do not get me wrong, I have had a lot of success, too. When I get asked this, most of the time I tell people the answer is time and work in the gym. But, let’s be real, there is more to it than that.
My Real Answer
I think a big part of it is my mentality. It doesn’t matter how good you are, if you fall apart on the competition mat (or when the going gets tough in training or life), you will falter. I think my mentality is a HUGE reason for the successes I have been having. So far, a lot of my mental outlook is from how I was raised. For those not raised this way I would recommend researching and studying good books written by successful people, and they don’t have to be written by people in sports; they can be written by successful people in any area. These people have things to tell you to help you learn how to do the same. Also, I like motivational speeches as well, specifically “fearless motivation” and “CT Fletcher.”
I think if you are having a rough time in competition you need to look at your game. Maybe you have a huge hole, but if you look and you don’t see holes in your game and you train WAY better than you compete, then see if maybe you are cutting weight wrong, etc., as that can also affect your performance.
Look at Your Mindset
If it’s neither of those things, look at your mindset. This is huge. If you psych yourself out it doesn’t matter how good you are you have already lost in your head. I do not look at my opponents games or even usually who I am competing against. I prepare ME to fight. Not how to win against this opponent but how to be the best I can be for this fight or competition. I compete against myself! My weight and strength training is about the only only thing I really change based on who or what the competition is.
Now, I know I have talked about my upbringing, but I believe that this base has been a great foundation for the mental side of my game. I focus on what I do and not what the other person does. If I am thinking about them then my energy is not focused on me and what I do best.
I grew up hearing my mom say don’t focus on anyone but you. She had these mind games for my siblings before some competitions. She had students she coached for vocal competition and stage performance. She wanted you to get into your own head and into character to “do you,” so to speak. Even after, as I have gotten older, I love to use music, talks, and meditation to get in the right place. I have a playlist just for competition. The headphones are noise cancelling so I do not get distracted by talking or other matches. I have learned that for me I have to stay very focused. Talking to people takes me out of my zone. I get in and out of that zone easier than I use to, but it takes practice to be able to do that.
When I first started it would take the day before and then no distractions, whereas, now it could only be the day of or even half an hour before, but I have really practiced; this doesn’t just happen. You will have to experiment to find out what it is that gets YOU in you right place. We are each individuals and we are affected differently. Experiment with this during your school’s competition classes (if they have them) or maybe experiment at less important tournaments or similar occasions. If you find something that you really like and wanna share, feel free to message me.
We all learn together. Find your lion or lioness!!!