Chris Herzog: Skill+Preperation+Right Mind Set = Success. PT.3

March 6th, 2009 In Theory | 2 Comments

Part 3: Right Mind Set

In the final installment of the Equation for Competitive Success, we are going look at a few exercises to help establish the right mind set for competition.

There are several methods and exercises to help develop the Right Mind Set. Finding what works best for you is the key. I’ve found a good blend of concepts from psychology of combat and sports psychology that works best for myself and my students. Three exercises that I like include: Goal setting, positive attitude, and visualization.

Goal Setting: plays a large roll in establishing the right mind set. Goal setting is divided into 3 tiers:

Long term goals: are those that are the hardest to obtain. For many competitors long term goals are the driving force behind their motivation for competitive training. These are largely considered the “dreams” of a competitor. Such aspirations as competing in ADCC, winning Mundials or PanAms, etc would be considered a long-term goal. If these seem extremely difficult to accomplish, they should be, its the reason to wake up every morning and get out of bed and train after you’ve been beaten up the night before. Aim high!

Mid level goals: are very difficult to accomplish, but with hard work and dedication can be achieved. These are the goals that should be the mid waypoint to achieving your long-term goal. You should have to work hard to succeed with mid level goals, but they should be obtainable. If not adjustments may be necessary. Some reasonable mid level goals would be medaling in local and regional level tournaments, qualifiers etc. The main focus should be to take steps towards your long term goal.

Short term goals: should be the meat and potatoes of your goals setting. These are the daily and weekly goals you set for yourself.
They work best for your daily conditioning, flexibility, technical training. Setting short term goals such as number of technical repetitions, beating certain times for conditioning routines, etc. are ideal short term goals. Succeeding in your short term goals builds a foundation for the right mind set.

Write down your goals and share them with your trainers and teammates, its holds you accountable.

Positive Attitude: may sound simplistic, but developing inner strength and appropriate confidence is essential for a successful competitor. Keeping a positive attitude should be centered around things you have control over. Using things like positive statements and keeping a positive attitude when mistakes are made is essential. When mistakes are made, use them as learning tools and an opportunity to make corrections. Keep the positive attitude “I can do that”, or “Next time I’m in that situation, I will succeed”. Developing a positive attitude is hard work, accept the challenge, and work at it daily.

Visualization: is my favorite development tool, its extremely powerful and assists in accomplishing goals and for developing the right mind set.

Visualization is drawing a mental picture or scenario that you play out in your mind. It may be difficult at first but like everything else, the more you practice the better and more vivid it becomes.

The two types of scenarios I stress the most are; the sensation of winning (success) and the execution of your Personal Attacking System against an opponent.

Always try to replicate the competition environment (use all your senses): noisy crowd, matches being called over a loud speaker, guys warming up on the side of the mat, the feel of the mat under your feet, and the sweaty musty smell of your opponent. All of these things brings a familiarity to your visualizations that raises your level of comfort when you compete.

I tend to do my best visualizations, after a hard nights training, as I’m lying in bed before I fall asleep. I run through my Personal Attacking System, imaging a struggle but being successful, then seeing myself getting my hand raised.

Another good opportunity is while your stretching before a practice. This sets the tone for practice and what you’ll be focusing on while you roll/spar.

If your like me, during a training camp I’m fine, up until a week to two weeks out I get random bouts of anxiety about the upcoming event. I could be driving, sitting at my office at work, out to dinner with the wife, etc. One of my coaches used to preach immediately visualizing success at those times. The reason was like Pavlov’s salivating dog theory. You start to equate success with your anxiety and nervousness. This type of random visualization alone has helped myself and my team tremendously. However I don’t support visualization while driving :)

Don’t stop with these exercises, these are just the tip of the iceberg. Developing the Right Mind Set is essential for competitor regardless of the sport. All to often we focus on skill training and conditioning and neglect developing our mind for competition as well. Every gym has that one or two guys that tears through everyone in the class, but when they get on the competition mat they get folded like a babies diaper. They only way to get beyond that is to train your mind as part of the greater whole.

By now you should at least have a basic understanding of the planning and process necessary to increases your chances for competitive success. Nothing is for sure, and as most of you know anything can happen during competition. Our attempt is to just increases the odds in our favor and utilizing the Equation for Competitive Success does just that. Good luck and if you have any questions about implementing the Equation for Competitive Successes into your personal program, don’t hesitate to ask.


Chris Herzog is a competitive stud and runs 10th Planet Rochester

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Skill+Preparation+Right Mind Set = Success. Part 1

November 24th, 2008 In Theory | 14 Comments

Coach’s Corner w/ Coach Chris Herzog

When Alder first asked me to write a blog for 10th Planet Watch I was pumped, then immediately realized, “you can barely put thoughts to spoken words you dope, how the hell are you going to articulate them to written words.”  Apparently that wasn’t a concern for Alder, so as long you guys don’t care, I don’t care either.  So grammar and spelling be damned (thank the Anunnaki for spell check, however I think I’m the only person in the world that gives spell check a headache, because sometimes it doesn’t even know what the hell I’m trying to spell).

So, besides the deciding what initial topics were going to cover, the next step was comming up with a name for the blog. I was playing around with the idea of something witty, and then that came to a screeching halt.  So I decided upon a tribute to a close friend and mentor that’s on hard times, as a reminder to him of the lives he’s touched and effected. He used to run a open MMA forum with the same name.  So welcome to the new “Coach’s Corner”.


In this installment of Coach’s Corner we’ll begin to take a look and the equation I use to promote success for my competitors/fighters. Just to be clear we will be discussing competition in terms of attempting to win, there are merits to competing for skill development, but that’s something we can discuss at a later date. Today will start our discussion with tournament preparation and its importance to success.  “But skill is listed first”.   Hey this is my blog and I start it anyway damn way I please. Now sit down and the 3 of you pay attention!

Preparation consists of many aspects but we’ll be touching on  three pieces to the puzzle that I’ve found to be the most effective: sport specific conditioning, tournament strategies, and proper warming up the day of the event.

Sport Specific Conditioning: Over the years I’ve had many well conditioned athletes walk through my Academy doors; marathon runners; collegiate athletes wrestlers, soccer and football players, powerlifters, body builders, etc.
They all had one thing in common. They all gassed when they spared and when they competed, they where all in great shape, but they weren’t in the right shape.

To get into the right shape we have to understand the importance of sport specific conditioning. Most grappling matches consist of one round 5-8mins in length depending on the skill level of the competitor. Studies have show that most intense action during these matches happens in busts of approximate 20 seconds, with 25-30 seconds of “active rest” which allows heart rate recovery in between bursts.  It’s important to replicate these conditions during your tournament preparation. Using a round based system one can easily apply it to drill training (escapes, passes, etc.) and their conditioning program reinforcing the replication of a competitive environment.  Depending on the level of importance of the event will dictate how long you want to prepare for the tournament between 3-6 weeks, replacing your normal training routine, is a fair amount of time to prepare if you are all ready in decent shape.   

 Its no secret that Grappling relies heavily on core strength and flexibly, but what many people miss is the importance of dynamic strength (kettle bell swings, cleans, burpees, power bands, etc.) and functional flexibility(hip swings, full range lunges, etc.) vs. static strength (bench pressing, curls, etc.) and flexibility (seated stretching and holding for 15-20 secs). Some great training methods that promote functional fitness are becoming readily available include kettle bell training and other programs such as cross fit.  At our academy we have a program that addresses these needs (Fight Fitness) designed specifically for our fighters and competitors, which has made a considerable difference in our competitive outcomes. If these types of programs are not accessible in your area there are several free online resources available that will allow you to set up your own individualized program.


Pt. 2 of this article up tomorrow!


-Chris Herzog


Is a Brown Belt in 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu, under Eddie Bravo.  Chris runs 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu Rochester out of Empire Academy of Comabt Sports & Fitness in Rochester, Ny. Chris also teaches Judo, Sambo and MMA. He is available for seminars and be contacted through the Academy website at: or by e-mail: