With the 1st Okinawa Karate International Tournament finals set to kick off Starting August 3rd, I figured it was a good time to write a quick post about some of the better strategies to use as a competition draws near.  Believe me, there are certainly things you SHOULDN’T do – did a long lost friend call you on a Friday night to go on a bender? – not a good idea for example.  So, how should you be preparing at the 11th hour?  Here’s a quick cheat sheet:

  1. Don’t make any fundamental technique changes!  You know what’s worse than letting someone get inside your head?  Letting yourself inside get your head! Ha!  Seriously though, if you’re mere days away from a competition, you shouldn’t be making and major changes to your technique.  Sure, it seems obvious enough: any changes you might make won’t be perfected in time.  But it goes beyond that.  Everyone performs best when they don’t have to think about performing their best.  They just get up there and do whatever it is they’ve been practicing for so long.  If you make last minute changes to your technique/routine/whatever, then then benefit of having your performance “second nature” go up in smoke.  You know what will happen?  You’ll get up there, start doing your thing and then suddenly you’ll get all ‘inside your head’ and you’ll screw up.  Believe me, I’ve seen this before.  e.g., Tiger Woods back when he was making ‘swing changes’ that overlapped with tournaments he was playing in.  Ya, not a good idea.  So do yourself a favour and go with the performance that you have optimized the most.  You’ll save yourself a major embarrassment.
  2. Don’t change your diet – mostly!  This one is a bit debatable – depending on what your sport is.  Body builders will go through extreme diet changes before a competition – even only weeks or days before hand.  But we’re not talking about Mr.Universe here, we’re talking about Karate.  Karate is an interesting lifestyle choice, because everything around your training (diet, alcohol consumption, sleep patterns, stress, etc., etc., etc.) should be “in moderation”.  You want to ensure you are eating a healthy diet, but you don’t need to be counting your calories or anything like that.  Simply put – as a martial arts practitioner,  you should be eating health, not only before competition, but at all times.  So, keep on keepin’on and and maintain your daily (healthy) eating habits.
  3. Don’t pull a muscle! Okay, worst thing you could ever do is decide a week before competition that you suddenly need to up your one-rep squat max and so you decide to hit the gym hard.  Next thing you know you snap your ass and you’re bed ridden for 2 months.  Sure – you have to keep working out, but again – don’t make any major changes to your routine.  There are WAY too many risks here, sprains, tears, …fractures even? <grimace>.  Keep up with your regular routine and perhaps even lay up a bit shortly before competition so that your not battling muscle fatigue. Now, get down lower in your stance!
  4. Hit the snooze button. Yep, if your boss starts complaining about your tardiness, you tell them to come and talk to me. 🙂 Sleep is so important!  Most people don’t get enough, even on a regular basis.  Being competition ready requires you to be fully rested.  You have to optimize your environment to get the most sleep possible!  Try making sure the air is cool and humidity set to optimal levels to ensure you get a good nights rest.
  5. Pass the soap? You know whats worse than getting sick?  Ya – getting sick one week before a competition.  Total disaster scenario.  You have to reduce your risk of getting sick.  The best way to do this is to wash your hands regularly.  Honestly, it seems simple, but washing your hands reduces the chance you’re going to stick a dirty finger in your eye, mouth, nose… ewww.  You’ll also be helping people around you buy not transferring germs, so all and all, it’s a good practice.

These few small tricks are just some of the ways you can prepare for your upcoming tournament.  Follow me on twitter @jasondpennell I’ll be posting tons of pictures, etc. while I’m in Okinawa for the tournament.

That’s it for now.

Happy Training.