The best athletes in the world all have something in common. They spend thousands of hours drilling and practicing technique outside of practice. The top basketball players spend hours shooting free throws on top of the work they are getting during practice. Baseball players spend time outside of practice throwing and catching.
Unfortunately, most Brazilian jiu jitsu athletes do not take the time to drill outside of practice. Everyone gets excited to roll at the end of class, but rarely does that excitement show for drilling. Yet, drilling is one of the best things you can do to improve your Brazilian jiu jitsu.
Types of Drilling and Programming
Drilling can improve many aspects of your BJJ game, including technical skill, timing, and conditioning. Most drills fall into two categories: technical drills or movement drills. So, the first thing to decided is what you want to drill. Some students like to drill the techniques they are learning in class, while others like to drill positions or techniques they are struggling with.
After you decide what to drill, you must program it into your routine I like to program drills using repetition or time:
- Repetition drilling: Set a timer for five to ten minutes. Choose one technique and perform five reps each side. Then, your training partner does five reps each side. Keep alternating for the allowed time.
- Timed drilling: This approach is done for speed and works best for movement-based drills. Set a timer for thirty seconds to one minute and do as many repetitions as you can in that time. Then, your partner goes. This type of drilling is similar to interval training as you get to rest as your partner goes.
Technical drills are done more slowly than movement drills, with the emphasis on small details. Attention to detail is critical. Drilling with bad technique makes you good at bad technique. The goal is to make improvements each rep. You should end your drilling session better than you where when you started.
Here are two examples of technical drills:
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Movement drills use the same motor patterns as techniques except they are done for speed. The benefits of movement drills include increased speed, conditioning, and timing.
Here are examples of movement drills:
Showing up to class is only part of the Brazilian jiu jitsu journey. Many students get frustrated because they are not improving or feel stuck. Often that student is not putting in time working on his or her weak areas.
“The goal is to make improvements each rep. You should end your drilling session better than you where when you started.”
Drilling offers students an opportunity to improve on technical skill, timing, and conditioning. Spending a few minutes drilling after or before class will go a long way toward improving your game.
Photo 1 courtesy of David Brown.