Step Back And Re-Examine Your Jiu Jitsu Game Plan

Published on by Samantha Faulhaber

Sometimes it feels like training is awful. Nothing is working. Step back and assess. Something needs to change, but you don’t know where to start. Ask a few good questions and you’ll give yourself some specific information to work from.

Did anything change recently (within 1-3 months?)

Are you dealing with external stressors, sleeping differently, adjusting to a new schedule outside of your BJJ schedule, change in diet, hydrating more or less, drinking more or less alcohol? All of it matters, no matter how much you think you can dissociate your mat time from the rest of the world. If you have come to rely on training as your stress relief, that expectation may make it harder to achieve actual stress relief if anything goes wrong in training. Your whole life balance matters. If you have something going on that is bleeding stress into the rest of your life, you’re going to have to deal with that thing. The nice thing about Jiu-Jitsu or athletic goals in general is they help you prioritize physical well-being and give you a baseline thing to measure against on a regular basis. You train several times per week and will be able to assess how you’re feeling with a good sample size. Become more aware of what you do during the day on days you feel good or bad. A simple diary of sleep, food and drink consumption, and quality of training “feel” can open worlds of analysis for you. Timing of the food matters too. You are your own experiment.

How often are you training?

Are you training less than usual? Are you training more than usual? You can’t have the same expectations of yourself vs your training partners when you cut down to 2 days a week from 3-4 for whatever entirely legitimate reason you have. You also can’t expect your body to keep up if you up your training days but don’t support it with enough recovery and nutrient intake. One of my favorite sayings lately comes from a good trainer friend – “There is no such thing as over-training, just under-recovering.”

Are you getting stuck in recreatable positions?

If you just have a general “everything sucks” idea, that is not specific enough to dig out of. Think about it. Are you losing every time you try De La Riva with a collar grip? Are you getting swept every time you try to stand up in guard? Do you get submitted 100% of the time you get mounted? What happens 2-3 steps before and after any of these things (except maybe after you tap)? Be as specific as possible and try to go into those exact places again and again so that you can get better at them. Avoiding the position will not make you better at them. If you choose to take a private lesson with your instructor this sort of self-analysis will be extremely helpful to both of you.

Get to the bottom of it.

Ask yourself questions like these to get closer and closer to what the issue may be. What sucks? What about it sucks? Why does it bother you? Can you do anything about it? What can you do about it? What of those options will you actually do about it? And move forward, my friend!

Oh, and if you’re trying to smash pass all the time and failing, you might want to literally learn a step back pass or a long step or any variety of other options before you you might be ignoring hahaha.