I’ve written a few posts about drills and whether or not they actually work for optimizing your learning in Jiu Jitsu. For sure there are psychological components to drilling and using repetitions to facilitate your development but I do believe it is important to be smart about how you choose to drill.

One of my biggest criticisms of “drilling” for the sake of drilling is that often times people will try to drill techniques that they’re only relatively familiar with. The issue with this is that if you drill poor technique, you will execute the technique poorly.

I also tend to think that the more you drill for the sake of repetition, you will restrict yourself to being one dimensional.

I personally prefer to drill complex movements as opposed to specific techniques so I spend quite a bit of time drilling sequences, not repeating techniques if that makes any sense. I drill for cardiovascular benefits (i.e.: conditioning) and speed. I tend to rely more on complex movement sequences as opposed to detailed techniques or pressure oriented (see the speed vs. accuracy trade off here)

So how should you be drilling?

During a private lesson, one of my clients talked about his past experience as a magician that used to hustle by doing card tricks at bars.

“Sleight of hand,” he said, “wasn’t about practicing quickly…it was about practicing techniques very slowly until speed developed.”

I use this same principle when I drill.

I practice a technique very slowly and under supervision of a higher rank student in order to make corrections and adjustments where I need them. I meditate on the details often and keep practicing the techniques very slowly until I become proficient with them.

So practice slowly.

Really take the time to learn a technique before you start repeating it a million times. Make sure you are doing it correctly before practicing. Don’t worry about the speed for now, that will come .

Read this for more on speed versus accuracy!

Get feedback from your coaches and professors.

It really helps to get feedback regarding the techniques and movements so that you understand the critical components you need to engrain into your memory.

Practice mentally, not just physically! 

There’s quite a bit of psychological research out that shows mental and physical practice is incredibly important for learning and retaining knowledge. Practice techniques physically, but also take some time to learn them mentally. If you don’t already practice meditation, you’ll be incredibly surprised as to how it will help you retain the knowledge that is often lost after an intense sparring session.


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