Ryan, one of the original 29 who pioneered American Steel fighting in Poland, 2012, is the current Regional Commander of the North West Wolf Pack. The Region supports five Chapters of the ACL, with most of its fighters having trained under Ryan. Ryan is a hard worker, creating armor and shields for his teammates while working a full time job and supporting a large family. Ryan is also the primary person who has worked with the ACL to bring us wonderful trophies, plaques and medallions showcasing the talent across the country for our ACL fighters and support staff.
#1. New fighters need to relax!
This cannot be stressed enough. Low level fighters enter the field tense, nervous, muscles tight. This is the absolute worst thing you can do to yourself as a fighter. Your muscles should be relaxed, be loose, even limp. Your breathing should be slow and regular before the fight starts. Look at the great fighters in your area. They will almost without exception be standing on the field like it's just another day with nothing to do, using the absolute minimal amount of energy to remain standing.
This one important step will increase your speed, agility, targeting, stamina, situational awareness (and field presence to others considering you a threat or a speed bump), more than any other thing or years of training. It will also reduce risk and severity of injury, as it directly related to the next item.
#2. They haven't stretched properly.
Not to say you need to be a yoga master, but it doesn't hurt.
A typical series of common athletic stretches massively reduces risk of injury, not just from sprains and strains, but also from impact. Literally think of it as using your sword against a stick or a rubber band. Which is going to take more damage?
#3 Having your head in the wrong place. People tend to overthink the fight and blow it, or under think into a berserker rage and do something stupid.
Approach each fight as an active participant, but allow yourself to just react. Don't try to plan things out. No plan survives the initial encounter. Keep your head in the rules, relax and think about what's happening later.
It takes most people years to develops what I call "feeling the fight". The subtle reactions to your opponent applying pressure on the fight. That won't come right away, but that is the goal.
I'll add a 4th because it ties back to #1.
Don't cut corners with your kit. It's one thing to make do with loaner gear, but that is still not an excuse for gaps, insufficient padding or protection. You need to trust it based upon reality, not because you really want to fight today and no one should hit you there. ARMOR WORKS... so long as we do it right and maintain it. There will be no success if this crucial component is ignored.