Getting ready for a tournament is a lot like getting ready for a first date. First, there’s the excitement of doing something new. Then you get the jitters. What’s going to happen? I’m about to spend time with someone I don’t even know. Then there’s the deliberation over the moves you’re going to use and whether or not you’re a bit too rusty to pull them off with the necessary ease.
When you’re thinking of upping your Jiu Jitsu, wrestling, boxing (or even dating) game you have to think like a Texas oil tycoon during the oil boom: DRILL, DRILL, DRILL. Just when you think you’re done, DRILL SOME MORE!
Now, get your minds out of the gutters. Just because I was talking about dating a few sentences ago doesn’t mean you have to go straight to the bedroom. Drilling just means repetition. Any wrestler worth his salt will tell you the one thing that helped his game out the most was drilling.
Drilling is the frumpy sweatshirt wearing step sister to the more glamorous cheerleading captain that is rolling. Both are considered mat time, but when you get down to brass tacks you’ll find that drilling is ultimately where champions are made.
As you become more experienced you will find there are a lot of different approaches that athletes will adopt to ready themselves for matches. As you face more opponents and spend more time drilling and rolling you'll find you've accumulated a bag of tools. Because of my culinary background, I prefer to think of my tools as knives. There’s a lot of variety but most people have a few go-to knives for everyday use. When it comes to knives (or submissions) you’ll find yourself going to the sharper familiar tool versus some of the specialty knives collecting dust. This practice is okay for the first few times hitting the tournament circuit, but you still have to know how and when to use them.
If there’s enough time before a grappling tournament, I like to choose two submissions and two sweeps that I don’t use as often when rolling, call a good friend who doesn’t mind spending an hour repeating the same four things over and over, and head to the gym to get to it. Be sure to give each other feedback when applicable and continue the practice. As you roll, you’ll find you feel more confident attempting the technique and over time become increasingly successful in applying it.
Drilling isn’t the most exhilarating aspect of the sport, but it makes the more exciting mat time that much more fun. Keep it up and you’ll have a bag full of razor sharp tools at your disposal.
What are some drilling related practices that help you get ready for a tournament? Share your best tips with us in the comments.