Oct 08

Mindset is Often More Important than Skillset

Mindset is Often More Important than Skillset

I spend a lot of time thinking about the connection between mindset and performance. There is no doubt that such a connection exists, and it’s significant.

I’ll give you a quick example.

Last Spring, I competed at the IBJJF Pan Ams in California. I was a purple belt at the time, and I had competed at the same tournament the year before and brought home silver.

This time, the division was smaller and it had several new purple belts in it. So it would seem that it would be “easy” to win it all, but I don’t think that I went into that tournament with the right mindset.

I’ve spent a good amount of time analyzing it, but I have no doubt that the outcome of the match I lost would have been different if my mind was in the right place. One thing that really highlighted that to me is the open mat training I did at a local gym the day after.

I went in there just to get some training in, and I rolled with many different individuals of various skill levels. Every roll I moved extremely well and everything just flowed.

The contrast between my performance there and the performance at the tournament was like night and day.

Now what changed in a day? I mean, I know I didn’t suddenly gain amazing amounts of new skill. Of course not, there had to be some other reason.

The only answer lies on the mental side of things.

 You Can Influence Your Mindset

Let me clarify something first.

When I talk about mindset, there are two different aspects that we will focus on. First, there’s your outlook on life and how you respond to situations, and then there’s your psychological state.

Both aspects are interconnected, but your psychological state plays a larger role in your performance on the mat. It’s also a very difficult animal to tame since it’s influenced by so many factors.

I’m still trying to figure it out.

I’ve read some great books that delve into the topic. I also had the good fortune to read an interesting article in Gracie Mag right before I competed at the Atlanta Open. It was an interview of Jimmy Pedro, and the focus was on his coaching methods and how he built up Kayla Harrison to become an Olympic Champion after her trauma.

In that article, he shared one of the methods he uses to help his athletes get into a peak psychological state. It went something like this: “Today is our day. Today nobody is going to beat us! Nobody! Today we are going to become Olympic champion!!”

Those words would be reinforced to his athletes over and over again throughout the day before they step out onto the mat. It’s a nice little mantra, isn’t it?

It’s also an example of auto-suggestion, which is a useful tactic in influencing mindset. Another tactic is to focus on all the preparation you’ve done. You know, those long and hard hours of training and brainstorming that went into developing your skill up until this point.

Oh, did you notice?

Both tactics are trying to accomplish the same thing. The intent is to strengthen situational confidence, and there’s a clear link between confidence and peak psychological state.

Mindset Influences Your Progress

So now we’re going to focus on the other aspect of mindset.

You can think of this as the prism through which you view the world. One thing about that though is that you can change your perspective, and sometimes you have to if you want to achieve your goals.

Right now, I’m not going to give any advice on if you should or how you should change. Instead, I want to point you to an example of differing mindsets on training and competition.

A few months ago, I got into a discussion on Jiujitsu Forums about one of the posts I wrote. There were some objections to the method I used to reinforce the idea that how you think can dramatically affect your progress in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

Anyway, I recently read that thread again, and it’s really interesting because of the clear differences in mindset.

So feel free to check it out. There are lessons there to be found.