If your child is competing in a Jiu Jitsu tournament for the first time, chances are that you are nearly as nervous as they are. After all, it’s often up to the parents to navigate all the little details pertaining to the competition. Since it’s their first one, you probably have numerous questions. These pointers will help you have a smooth and fun first tournament experience.
1) Picking A Tournament
Your child’s coach likely knows about a few that frequent your area. Don’t be afraid to check in with them and ask for direction in picking one, as well as whether or not the coach will be available to attend with your child.
Be sure to consider drive time to the venue, the weigh in time/date, and whether the event tends to draw a lot of children.
The more competitors there are that are close to your child’s age, weight, and belt level, the more matches and experience they will receive. The final consideration is whether your child wants to compete in gi, no-gi, or both. Some tournaments only offer one or both, so be sure to find one that meets your child’s desired competition expectations.
Generally speaking, you need to pay an entry fee to the tournament, as well as spectator fees for any family members wanting to attend. Additionally, you’ll want to check in with your school/coach to confirm whether or not you’ll need to pay a coaching fee.
If your child has chosen to compete in a gi bracket, they will need a BJJ gi, rash guard, spats/shorts, their belt, and a mouth guard. If they are competing in a no-gi bracket, you’ll need a rash guard and spats (short or pant length is usually acceptable).
Most tournaments require no-gi clothing to be tight fitting. If you are at all concerned about clothing requirements, you should be able to find detailed rules on the event website.
While not technically “gear,” plan on bringing plenty of water and snacks in your gear bag. Sometimes you end up waiting around, so fuel is an important aspect to remember to help keep your athlete ready to go.
Some schools offer competition classes, and others just work competition knowledge into their regular kids’ classes. Talk to your child’s coach to see if there are any particular classes that would benefit your child leading up to their first competition, as well as any expectations the coach might have for a training schedule.
5) Day-Of Navigation
The day of can bring a lot of nerves-both for your child and you. Being prepared with all the correct gear, an understanding of when and where to find their coach, and how the day will play out will help ease some of the nerves.
Once you weigh in with your child, be sure to grab any info on your child’s brackets. Many tournaments offer online, live bracket tracking, which makes it really easy to see when your child will be coming up soon.
If they do not offer live tracking, find out where you can acquire information on brackets and match line-ups.
Warm ups can be tricky at tournaments. Ask your child’s coach when and where they should warm up. If the coach has multiple competitors, chances are that you’ll need to help warm your child up for their matches. Not to worry! They can usually recall some of their class time warm ups and do them on their own with you nearby.
Make sure to have your child by their designated mat BEFORE their match comes up so they are comfortable and ready to go when it’s their turn.
6) Talking To Your Child
This one is often overlooked, and yet it is incredibly important. Let the coach do the coaching. Your job is to be the parent. Cheer on your child. Tell them you loved watching them. Ask what they loved most about the tournament. Tell them you are proud of them. When it comes time for the coaching, feedback, and/or corrections, let the coach handle it.
Someone will win, and someone will lose. Both are good experiences, and you can express your pride in how they did regardless of the outcome. Competing can be scary. Don’t forget that they are doing something that many people will never even try! Encourage and support them, and always remember to let the coach do the coaching.
Now You Know How to Prepare For Your Child's First BJJ Tournament.
Hopefully you feel a bit more prepared to tackle that first Jiu Jitsu tournament with your young athlete. When all else fails, remember that your child’s coach and fellow team parents are excellent assets that will be happy to help you and your child navigate your way into the competition world. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
The Jiu Jitsu community is a welcoming environment, and everyone wants to see you and your child succeed and enjoy yourselves.
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