Gianni Grippo's Guide To A Productive Drilling Session

Published on by Charlie

Gianni Grippo Drilling


This article by Gianni Grippo provides the reader with a fascinating look into his mindset and techniques for maximizing time during a productive drilling session. If you enjoy this article please go to for about this amazing athlete and an equally amazing person's life.




When I first joined MGA back in 2013, I came in with a pretty well-established routine of drilling for an hour on my own before each training session. I’ve been doing that religiously for years now because first of all, I’ve always felt that any kind of technical movement is the best way to warm up for the hard sparring that would follow–jogging has just never done it for me.

Secondly, drilling has always been a way for me to set goals for my training. So instead of just focusing on winning the round, I’ll focus more on trying to hit the technique I had just been practicing–I’ve found for that, at times, to be a healthier mindset when approaching training.

Lastly, I keep the routine of drilling daily because I enjoy doing it. Not only do I enjoy it because I see the benefits it brings in training and in competition but it also gives me the ability to see new openings for different variations of a particular technique that maybe I wouldn’t have seen without repeatedly doing something a million times over. I never get bored of drilling because it’s always continuing to help expand my arsenal of techniques.

When I first started drilling on my own at MGA before each of Marcelo’s classes though, I wasn’t being met with the same enthusiasm for drilling as most sessions before training would just be me and my partner working on our own.

But, after time I started seeing more and more people take on the same habits I had–coming in an hour early and repping out techniques on their own before the training session. While I was overjoyed in seeing a “drill movement” coming through MGA, I also saw some issues in the students drill sessions that would lead to an unproductive hour of work.

So, with that little inspiration, here are some general guidelines to help make your drilling as efficient and as productive as humanly possible:

Have a plan and be specific. 

I don’t do this anymore, but every Sunday I would spend a couple minutes writing down the techniques I would be practicing for the upcoming week. I never went in without a plan. I would choose the techniques based off of weaknesses I saw in my game that needed to be addressed, or I would choose them off of something I would learn in class and want to put extra attention on. I also never wanted to go into the day figuring out on the fly what I wanted to work on. I always knew exactly what my goals were and that helped me keep an extra focus during my sessions.

At the same time, I believe it is also important to be specific in your drill sessions. I wouldn’t suggest switching off rounds drilling guard, then the next round working on passing–you’ll never get much better at either if you don’t give one or the other an extra focused attention. If I have an hour to drill, it is going to be either working on top or bottom, never interchanging. Even when working on my passing I’ll even keep it to passing one specific guard, usually never changing it up. From there, it’s okay to work a couple different variations of passing a guard but really focus on keeping it specific.

An example: For a while, I’ve been focusing a lot on passing the de la riva guard and recently I noticed that I wasn’t passing enough to my right side. (I don’t do the same passes to both sides, but I have different options to both sides.) So, some days I would spend the entire session drilling passes only to the right side, and some days I’d practice only going to my left.

Keep it specific.

Keep talking to a minimum. 

A couple years ago I wouldn’t have been as forgiving about this rule. Literally, at one point I had a stack of cards that would simply say, “stop talking.” If a drill partner would be chatting it up too much, I would simply hand him a card and he’d get the message.


But, I’ve become more lenient over the years, to an extent. Training has to be enjoyable or else why would we continue to do it. I’ve improved on being able to crack jokes with teammates and keep things a bit more lighthearted than I once was but at the same time I always know there’s work that needs to be done and I always intend on doing it well.

So, when drilling, focus on keeping talk to the technique that’s being performed. Don’t be afraid to bounce ideas off of one another or for the person being drilled on, don’t hold back when you feel like your partner is making a mistake in the technique. Making those observations and correcting your training partner can only be beneficial for both of you–addressing a mistake out loud reinforces your awareness to not make that same mistake again.

Understand what you are drilling.

When drilling on your own and not involved in a class you have the opportunity to practice what you want, but that doesn’t mean you should just practice anything. That drill time that you have should mostly be spent repeatedly going over a position or situation you’re already very familiar with. Nothing in that time drilling should be anything new to you. Drilling should simply just be a time to reinforce what you already know.

One thing I see a lot in some drill sessions is people trying to rep something they are not very familiar with. If you constantly rep something that you don’t know very well, there’s a good chance there are mistakes in the technique and in that case you’ll start creating bad habits.

If there is ever something I’d like to drill but I don’t feel proficient enough at it, I’ll skip over it and go back to something I’m more familiar with. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to abandon the opportunity to add something new to my game, but it needs to be worked on at the right time and place. Instead of running the risk of repeatedly doing a technique wrong, instead I’ll go to one of my professors or any of the other black belts at Marcelo’s who will have better knowledge of the technique or situation, have them help me out with it, then I can go off on my own and practice it.

There’s time to troubleshoot and work on parts of your game you’re not as familiar with, but while your focus is on repeatedly working specific techniques and situations it should all be based around things you already have deep knowledge of.

To wrap up, here are a few other quick guidelines to help improve your drill sessions:

Drill for time, not for reps. 

Don’t concern yourself with how many reps you do. Just focus on doing them right!

Find a consistent drill partner. 

Know who your drill partner will be coming into the day. Depending on finding a partner at the last minute is never an easy task. Exchange numbers and make a consistent schedule with someone.

Don’t turn it into a training session. 

Save the sparring and resistance work for the actual training time. Use your drill time to turn your technique into second nature movements.

Any other questions on how to approach your drill sessions? Email me at