Anyone who has trained bjj for a length of time has encountered the dreaded training slump. Even though you may be attending class regularly, your progress has ground to a halt. And even worse, you may feel that you are getting worse and your training partners are overtaking you on the mats!
You ask yourself “What is happening and what can be done?!?”
First of all, realize that training slumps happen to everyone. Even world champions and the elite of the sport endure periods of what feels like stagnation in their training. Our improvement in bjj does not follow a smooth, uninterrupted upwards progression.
Here are 3 ideas to help you crack that slump.
1) Take a brief break
In a previous article on overtraining Overtrained? 5 Signs That You Are Overdoing It in Training, we discussed how a failure to recover from intense training sessions can cause several physical problems. In chronic cases, a short layoff may be required to allow the body and mind to regenerate.
Most other sports have an off season. This allows the athletes a break from the constant strain of training and competition. In bjj, we have no such off season and thus students will tend to be training continuously year round.
It is up to the student to recognize the signs when they need a a break to recharge both mental and physical resources. The term “active rest” refers to the idea that even though you are not at the academy, you are still engaged in physical activity which will allow you to maintain your conditioning during your break from jiu-jitsu training.
Don’t worry, you won’t forget all of your bjj during a brief break, but you will recharge those batteries.
2) Try softer
In our enthusiasm to be our best, we can become overly intense in our mindset and view even individual training sessions and rolls like the finals of the Worlds! Sports psychologists use a term “levels of arousal” that describes the optimal level of being psyched up for any given athletic activity.
An archer, for example, needs a calm mind and steady hand for best accuracy.
At the opposite end of the spectrum the power lifter needs a level closer to “blind rage” to deadlift 500lbs. off the floor. Bjj is somewhere in between and being “too tense” is a common problem for students.
Ask yourself if you are getting too mentally tight and wound up for your training sessions? If you are listening to death metal at an ear-splitting volume for two hours before training to psych yourself up, you might be guilty of trying a little too hard!
Are you subjecting yourself to so much internal pressure that it is causing you to tighten up mentally and prevent your jiu-jitsu from flowing?
3) Are you consistent?
In seeming contradiction to point #1, you have to be honest with yourself if you are really being consistent with your class attendance and attention to the other important factors like your nutrition and physical conditioning.
Success in any difficult endeavor doesn’t happen overnight and in reality is the cumulative result of sustained, consistent effort over a longer period of time.
If you have been spending more evenings playing video games than getting on the mat at the academy, should you be surprised that your skills are not improving?
If you are approaching your training in a haphazard fashion, not applying your mind to what you are doing on the mat, you are likely not getting all of the benefit from your time on the mat.
Ask your professor what the “secret” is to improving and they will likely respond with something along the lines of “Just attend class consistently!”
Read also:6 Steps to Fix a Hole in Your Game
What are your slump-busting tips?