How to handle an unproductive training environment…

A reader turned friend asked me a series of interesting questions that I wanted to touch on in a post on here.  He is having a personality clash with his coach.  His coach is impatient with him and he feels the coach doesn’t really help him out as much as he could.  This is not an uncommon problem, and it is a difficult issue.

For starters, no one wants to be the guy to leave a team due to personality issues.  There’s a word thrown around “Creonte” which Carlson Gracie came up with to describe someone who leaves his team.  It’s tough, and once you have a routine with which you are comfortable leaving that routine can be difficult.

My first and foremost piece of advice to anyone who is unhappy with their training environment is to assess the situation.  Sometimes, it’s self inflicted, or an issue that the individual can remedy.  For example, one of my friends expressed concerns that he feels he is not growing in his training environment.  The training environment is such that growth has to come from within, so I suggested that he try changing how he drills and how he rolls, and I think that the results are gradually becoming apparent.

Sometimes, a training environment is simply insufficient.  If you’re an aspiring world champ and you can already submit everyone in the room, you may be too big a fish for the small pond in which you reside.  It may be time for you to go to a tougher gym.  This is something about which you need to communicate with your coach.  If you are considering leaving strictly for pragmatic reasons, you should have an open and honest conversation about it and make a decision based on that.  Maybe there’s an affiliate gym that is part of the same team that will offer you a better challenge, there are ways to make switching gyms not mean abandoning your team…

However, sometimes there is in fact a personality issue.  In this sort of situation you should sit down with your coach and explain as unemotionally as possible what your concerns are and what they aren’t.  Let the coach know that if you wanted to leave you would have already left, and that you are having this conversation so that you DON’T leave.  If your coach is a smart and business savvy, they’ll understand that you are effectively trying to continue giving them your business so it is in their best interest to work with you.  If they’re not, you may be better off elsewhere anyways…

Also, understand that sometimes people simply don’t have it in their skill set to help you.  For example, a coach may have a vastly different game than you do, it may be wise to work with someone else on the team who has a more similar skill set.  That’s okay, not everyone plays the game the same way.  For example if your coach is 5’4 and you are 6’4 your games will be substantially different, seek out people who play your game better than you within your gym.

No one can tell you whether or not you should leave your training environment for another.  It’s a very difficult decision to make, and can be nerve-wracking.  I can speak from experience when I say that if you are in fact in a toxic training environment which is unhealthy and counterproductive for you, the sooner you move the better.  But be careful because in doing so you may be burning bridges, so make sure that you are not projecting your own issues on the training environment.



  1. Jiu Jitsu training is a product buy it and use it where ever you want. Our first gym forbid us to compete in tournaments that they didn’t approve of, they only went to the smallest tournaments where everyone gets a medal. We got kicked off the competition team for going to the biggest tournaments where most people dont get a medal. We’ve been to 3 gyms in 2 years and now we are looking at a 4th gym because they train for two hours at each class 5 days a week or current gym only offers 2 hours per week. One visit to the new gym is equal to a week at our current gym. We are a consumer and we will purchase the best product regardless of who or where it is.


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