Just curious, do any of you have any mental routines (thoughts, meditations) you go through to prepare your mind before you compete, drill etc.? I know how to warm up my body well enough, but as a BJJ white belt, once I get grappling, I have a hard time slowing down my mind down and focusing on my next move. I am told that every white belt is a spaz and this will change over time, but if you guys have any wisdom to share about this, I would be happy to learn from you.
Concentrate on your breathing; it has a calming effect. Breathe deeply through your nose and let it out from your mouth. All athletes understand the importance of breathing. Even when in the midst of a total grappling effort, "hear" yourself breathe. Calm and control it. Become one with it.
Always take a deep breath before a burst of effort. Never hold the breath when grappling...either you are breathing in or you are expelling it in direct measure with the effort. Your body demands the oxygen when under tough physical exertion. Expelling the breath with a shout while tightening the belly gives you additional strength. Feel when it's time to burst and when it's time to coast by listening to your breathing.
Unfortunately, there's no shortcut to that. It's all about getting the reps in until the techniques are second nature. Only then will you be free to relax mentally and think about tactics and strategy. Also, more cardio. I don't care how good your conditioning is, it always needs to be better. It's hard to brain when you're tired.
Saulo Ribeiro's "University of Jiu-Jitsu" book explains what a lot of instructors don't: As a white belt, when you're rolling against more experienced guys, your job is essentially just to survive; maintain your composure, roll into your opponent rather than away from him, protect your neck, don't give up your arm, etc. If you can accept and apply that, it'll go a long way.
In BJJ, you start by getting subbed a million times during the same round. Your goal is to get subbed LESS. Then your goal is to last a round WITHOUT getting subbed. Then your goal is to last a round without getting subbed AND attempt a few attacks or sweeps of your own. Then it's to occasionally score a few subs of your own. (And so on...)
So my recommendation to you is this: Before a round of rolling, pick one realistic goal and focus on that. (Your first goal should probably be to get subbed less or to last a full round without getting subbed.) If your instructor gives you a goal then go with that. Otherwise, pick a realistic goal and focus on that KNOWING that you'll fail more often than not . Progress will come with time.
Also buy this book: