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5 Ways Drilling Will Improve Your Jiu Jitsu Faster

Updated: Apr 15, 2022

We all know that rolling is the fun part of jiu-jitsu training. It’s when you get to put your skills to the test and experience all the amazing benefits of regular BJJ training. But rolling is even more fun when you’re winning; when your technique is sharp, you control the match, and you win more rounds than you lose.

To win more you need efficient technique, precise timing, a wide arsenal of moves to pull from, and superior conditioning.

How can you build all of these things aside from going to class each week?


And drilling doesn’t have to be boring and monotenous. In fact, if you keep your focus on the benefits of drilling you’ll likely get much more out of each session. The time you put in to drilling will directly benefit your time rolling and competing.

Let’s look at the top five ways drilling will improve your BJJ faster.

1. Improved Memory and Technique Recall

There’s a reason why pro athletes spend years practicing. Basketball players accumulate thousands of hours shooting free throws. Pro golfers hit thousands of balls at the range working on the same shot. They do this because repeating the same thing over and over allows for mastery.

You ingrain the mechanics into your subconscious to a point where you no longer have to think of each part of the process. You become a machine and simply do the process. Minimal thought, just pure execution.

This is the level you want to achieve with your jiu-jitsu techniques. A point where you no longer have to think your way through positions. Where the reaction, be it offense or defense, is subconscious. Repping techniques through drills can get you to this point.

When you rep techniques your memory will improve. The next time you are in a given position the answer will present itself without much effort. Essentially, you are greasing the neural and muscular pathway of each technique so that your brain has a sharp, clear connection to pull up and apply any given move.

Shoot for 50 to 100 reps of each technique per session.

2. Better Timing

If you’ve been on the mat long enough you know that timing is essential. You must act or react at the right time for success. The more you need to think in a given position, the slower your reaction time. This usually leads to a missed opportunity or your opponent gaining the advantage.

When you drill techniques you not only speed up your reaction time, due to improved memory and recall, you learn when to apply the technique at the right time. Moves work better when they are not only executed properly, but when the time is right. If an opponent’s weight isn’t in the right place, or you’re not positioned correctly, you’ll end up using force or speed. This translates to sloppy technique and usually a failed attack or counter.

You can improve your timing by having your drilling partner give different reactions against the same technique. Try to drill one technique against more or less resistance, against your partners weight positioned differently, and against slower and faster reactions.

Through drilling, your timing will sharpen and your success rate will improve dramatically.

3. Better Conditioning

Depending on how you structure your sessions, you can greatly improve your BJJ conditioning through speed drilling. There are different types of drilling, mainly technical drilling, where you are working through precise application of moves aiming for refinement, and movement drilling, where you are more focused on speed and coordination. Both have their place in improving your BJJ game, however movement drilling will develop your physical qualities for better mat performance.

Movement drilling will more closely simulate the feeling of a live roll. You’ll get your heart, lungs, and muscles all pumping by doing reps for speed and precision.

You can set a timer or rep count with your partner and perform the same technique as quickly and precisely as possible for the desired time or reps. Then switch and your partner will perform the drills.

In this manner, it essentially becomes interval training with drills, possibly the best way to build the physical qualities you’ll need for better jiu-jitsu.

4. Expanded Technique Skillset

If you’ve been training for a while you’ve probably learned dozens, if not hundreds, of techniques. However, how many of those techniques do you actually have at your disposal at any given moment? Likely, not many.

We tend to favor certain techniques that compliment our game and fail to assimilate everything we learn into our arsenal. However, sometimes you need a certain move for a certain scenario. Adding dedicated drilling sessions to incorporate new techniques, or to rep techniques that you learned in class to commit to memory will expand your overall technique arsenal. This will prepare you for new situations on the mat and give you options to fall back on or deploy when your opponent knows your game or is countering your best stuff.

The best jiu-jitsu competitors have a wide technique skillset and a well developed “A” game that they have mastered through hours of mat time and likely dedicated drilling.

Expand your BJJ arsenal with drill sessions.

5. Improve Your Weaknesses

Finally, drilling allows you to work on your weaknesses. Class time is focused on the group and dedicated to the technique of the day. You learn the technique, drill it a few times, then go into live sparring. Usually, very little time is given to your personal game unless you make time to work on it.

If you notice that you’re repeatedly getting caught in the same position or beat by the same move, then you’ll be well served to focus on this weakness and learn the best way to escape, counter, or improve this position. There are seemingly endless BJJ learning platforms now online. If you’re running into an issue on the mat then the answer is out there. Simply watching the solution however, isn’t enough to make it success on the mat. You must practice and apply it.

When you attack your weaknesses your progress on the mat will explode! Sure up the holes in your game by drilling the things that are missing or that you need.

Overall, drilling will only improve your jiu-jitsu. In addition to the benefits listed, drilling will also give you more mat time, which ultimately is what it takes to become a black belt master. Drilling is also a way to make progress without adding stress to an often already overworked and beat up body.

Schedule your next Open Mat drilling session at OM | Zen Garden, Huntington’s newest boutique wellness experience opening Summer 2022. To learn about our early member specials, click below.


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