Prepping your child for his or her first tournament

Published on July 21, 2016

The nerves that come with competing can be daunting to anyone. Add in the scenario that it’s your first tournament and those feelings are now compounded. Now imagine its your first tournament, your heart is racing, your stomach is upside down and you’re only 8 years old…

Having your child compete at a young age is a great way to not only build Jiu Jitsu skills but also to develop personal skills such as character, sportsmanship, and confidence. When competing goes wrong, it is rarely a problem with the child, but rather results from bad coaching and miss-guided parents. Below is a list of 5 things you can do to ensure your child has the best outing possible for his or her first tournament.


Practice, practice, practice


Before any type of competition it’s important to always practice. People study before they take a test and this should be treated no differently. Have your child attend as many practices as possible in the months leading up to a tournament. These don’t necessarily needto be high intensity or “competition ready” practices. Your child just needs tobe comfortable in his or her ability on the mat. The best way to do this is through practice with a group of their peers.File Feb 26, 3 36 04 PM


Be part of a great association


Making sure your child goes to a good school is a key part in training properly for a tournament. Too many times have I seen traditional martial arts schools advertise they teach Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. With its growing popularity its very tempting for a school to advertise that they offer such classes after only taking a few classes themselves. Having your child taught by untrained instructors is not only detrimental to their learning, but could be very unsafe as well.. A good association should have, at a minimum, a well trained purple belt leading the kids class with one or two assistant instructors on the mat helping supervise.

Childrens_Program3Having the knowledge to teach is absolutely a need, but when dealing with children, having the personality, patience, and ability to connect with them is a must. A great kid’s instructor will have your child not only learning BJJ but begging to come back for the next class. This translates perfectly into competition because they will respect, listen, and want to perform to the best of their abilities for the instructor.


Choose your tournament wisely


After a few months of training with the right people you feel its time to let your child compete. With so many organizations hosting tournaments it may be tricky picking which one is right for you and your child. Seek the advice from your kids instructor and fellow training partners on which tournament is best for your first outing. You should pick something local and ideally with either multiple divisions or double elimination. The goal of your child’s first tournament is to gain experience on the mat. Winning is always nice but medals eventually sit in the closet and collect dust, while gaining experience and learning how to cope with nerves and defeat are lessons for life.


It’s about them not you.


You cannot relive your childhood or lost opportunities through your child. Many amazing parents fall into the abyss that is reliving their childhood through their kids. Remember, as much as they act like you or look like you they are not you. Pushing your child to win is not wrong, but forcing them beyond their capacity or willingness is. I find that the best thing a parent can be is supportive. The moment you try to become the coach you will start to drown the competition fire in your child. Let the instructor do hisor her job and coach. You be what they need you to be.Children's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu


Keep it fun!


How do you keep any kid interested in anything? You need to keep it fun and exciting for them. This needs to be a joint effort for you and your child’s coach. While they are training hard for competition, take time to make sure they are enjoying the class. During the tournament make sure they are having a good time, win or lose. After the tournament, take them out for a treat. The best way to keep kids engaged and always wanting more is to end every experience on a high note, whether it’s a fun game of dodge ball after practice or team pizza and ice cream after a long day’s tournament. Ensuring that your child is having fun will not only enhance the experience but it will bring a smile to your face as well.


I hope these 5 tips help you and your child have a great start to competition Jiu Jitsu. If you have any tips, please leave them in the comments section below. Until next time, roll safe, have fun, and see you on the mats!



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