Contributed by Lettie Hastings | Austin Community College DECA, TX
During competition, students challenge their business knowledge and skills with real scenarios to win over judges. You have what it takes to reach your goals, and by preparing yourself for competition day, you will set yourself one step ahead of your competition. This guide will help teach you how to mentally, emotionally and physically prepare for your competition day.
How to Prepare for Competition Day
Preparing Yourself Mentally
When it comes to any challenge, it is easy for anyone to start to feel overwhelmed. Here are some tips to stay engaged with your work and ease the mind from panicking.
1. Meditate: Meditation is scientifically proven to reduce stress by bringing the focus to your attention and eliminating any thoughts that may be focusing on the negative or distracting you from your task at hand.
2. How Stress Benefits You: Even though we’re discussing reducing your stress, it is also important to note that some stress is important to competition. A little bit of stress can help give you the energy and adrenaline rush needed to get into the competition mindset.
3. Stay Self-aware: Self-awareness is crucial to feeling confident on competition day. Be aware of what may trigger you to feel anxiety and adjust. Practice easy and feasible coping mechanisms for your anxiety and start to practice them as a habit for competition day in your day-to-day life.
Preparing Yourself Physically
It's easy to forget to take care of yourself physically when trying to prepare for a competition or big challenge mentally. Your body has a way of letting you know when it is overworked, overstimulated and in pain. Listen to yourself as you try these steps to remain physically prepared.
1. Stay Hydrated: We tend to overlook this step, however, it is the most crucial step to being prepared. Staying hydrated helps improve movement, energy, mental clarity and immune health. You will feel restored and refreshed walking into your competition room.
2. Rest: The easiest way to get into the right mindset for competition day is to rest! Resting ensures your body has enough energy to take on any mental or emotional challenges you face on competition day. It has also been scientifically proven to retain and organize your memories.
3. Stretch & Move: Stretching is crucial to having a better range of motion and building the ability to hold uncomfortable positions for 20-45 seconds. This is important for competitors either sitting or standing for competition. To remain professional, having the ability to sit uncomfortably or remain posed in an upright position will give the judge a sense of your overall confidence and ability to stay focused.
Preparing Yourself Emotionally
There are a lot of emotions that come into play on competition day. You may feel yourself on a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the day that sometimes may take over at the moment. These steps will help you prepare for what is coming.
1. Analyze your Self-talk: We focus on ourselves and look at how things will impact us before they even occur. To eliminate your self-defeating thoughts, you’ll want to remember to avoid criticizing yourself and underestimating your capabilities. Remember to replace those thoughts with positive thoughts such as: “I made it here today. I can do this” and “I have come prepared and ready to take on the day.”
2. Remember Previous Accomplishments: Think back to the achievements you have already accomplished. Not only can you perform well, but you have done it in the past. You must keep those results the same so you can build your confidence to focus on the competition at hand. How did you prepare last time? What changes will you need to make for competition day now? How will you measure growth from the last competition day you faced?
3. Remember the Why: Lastly, we can sometimes forget motivation. To stay motivated, ask yourself why you’re even competing. Why are you here today? Why are you seeking results? Why did you join DECA or take on this challenge in the first place? By reminding yourself why you start to visualize the path and determination required to reach your goals.