Every fighter is nervous before a fight or matches whether it be MMA, BJJ or boxing. Either they are a world champion, black belt master or a beginner. However, dealing with it comes with experience and practice. The anxiety and nervousness come in many different forms. Like feeling uncomfortable in your MMA rash guards and spats, not believing in yourself, thoughts of backing up, giving up, not being able to focus, etc.
Of course, there are some ways to deal with it. Over excitement or nervousness can cause muscular tension, attention loss, bad coordination, and rhythm many more. This is how it affects your nerves affecting the fight. So, calm yourself could increase winning chances. You cannot make yourself comfortable or take off the nervousness. In fact, accepting it can make things easier.
Over excitement and nervousness, make you exhausted physically and mentally before a real fight starts. So, as a result, you couldn’t perform at your best. Techniques like progressive muscle relaxation and diaphragmatic breathing are effective. However, you can also search or talk to your trainer about other techniques. These help in getting you relaxed and straightening and keeping the focus.
Close your eyes and visualize fighting your opponent going through moves. Go through your moves and predict theirs and counter them, go over this plenty of times. Basically, visualization things you would do in a match that would lead you to a win. It helps with anxiety and confidence as you can harness anxiety into power and use the aggression in the ring making yourself unstoppable.
Do your Rituals
Some gyms have their own rituals, some martial arts style have their specific rituals like Muay Thai fighters have wai kru. You can always create your own ritual or pre-fight practice like listening to music, talking to your coach, or listen to motivational speeches, etc. will help. Other than that, things like wearing your lucky shorts, gloves, spats, etc. can make you feel a little more comfortable. However, it is not recommended that you get dependent or too attached. Remember you are in control and you created these they should not and cannot negatively affect your performance.
Do Some Meditation
Meditation like breathing, mental focus, and many more methods help calm nerves and channel stress and anxiety. Try different methods. It might take some time to find the one that fits you best. Or just stick with the one you love and over time it will help. Meditation straightens the mind giving you the control. Hence, you become able to focus the anxiety in the right direction. By practicing you’ll get better.
Redirecting the Focus
Because of the stress, your mind could become a nomad losing focus on what's important. Redirecting the focus will get your attention on your winning strategy. Talking and giving courage to yourself, hitting the gloves, stamping your feet etc. also act as a reminder to keep the focus straight. Telling yourself you can do this and bringing out the martial artist in you really helps. The legend Muhammad Ali said;
Going Through Win Strategy
Don’t start thinking deeply about the thoughts you are having before the match. absorb those thoughts and keep on going through what will you do in the ring. Revise the fight plan and winning strategy. Think of how you will counter the moves and make way for your attacks.
The mental trigger is a very effective technique and one of the most powerful ones. However, you have to be really careful with this because if not done right it can be dangerous. It can make things worse instead of making them better. Thus, consult a professional sports psychiatrist for this. The techniques work by breaking your mind into pieces, making groups, putting the pieces back in groups, and storing the groups separately with a trigger that activates them. To explain things, suppose you have a trigger that when you listen to your favorite song you go to sleep easily. This way you can turn off the anxiety and become a ferocious fighter with quick reflexes and brutal attacks. Yes, this can be called an advanced psyche.