Make the Best of Your Time Away from the Mats

Most people have been in a circumstance where they have an injury, major life event, change in schedule, etc. that results in time off from the mats. I am a huge advocate of remaining as consistent as possible, even if it that means going to class only once a week to avoid time away from jiu-jitsu. If you have an injury or anything that can be harmful to you by going to class, then use your time wisely while you are recuperating.

Mentally, I believe time off can be very helpful. In my experience, many times I felt like my jiu-jitsu game improved when I had some downtime. It seems as though my brain had time to process and let the info sink in for when I returned. It felt easier to execute moves I had been practicing before I left. I’ve had people ask me if I had been training elsewhere and/or more often when I was actually not training at all. That situation has happened several times when I was taking a break. The clarity that comes when you let go and stop trying so hard can be helpful to your progress.

During this downtime, you can reassess your goals and revisit what has been working and what hasn’t. I like to do check-ins throughout the year regardless, so it’s a great idea during a break. Maybe I’ve been working on a technique that has been progressing slowly and I need to make adjustments. Also, there may have been one submission that I have been hitting and I can move to a new one. While you are away, you can watch videos and do any solo drills to help your game.

Breaks from jiu-jitsu can also help your body get stronger when you focus on strength training to further prevent injuries from happening in the future. Stretching every day during this time is crucial to aid in keeping your muscles pliable and ready for your return. The other benefit of a strength training and flexibility regimen is building the habit of both for when you return. Your schedule may need to be altered when you add jiu-jitsu class to your schedule again, but it is important to continue with both of them to some extent. Take care of your body in any way you can to help heal for your return to the mats. During this time, you can heal any minor injuries that may have been bothering you. With the extra time, you can rehab those minor injuries with any of the forms of recovery that work for you or try new ones.

Upon your return, start with only basic drills taught in class. If anything hurts, then you need to take additional time to heal completely. Having your body feel good for everyday activities is not the same as jiu-jitsu activities. It is better to be off for a longer time period all at once than come back early and end up having longer time off altogether. If everything is fine with the drills for a few days, then you can add live drills with someone you trust. Once that goes smoothly, then you can start rolling with lighter people or with someone who can be gentle. Always assess how you feel the next day before moving on to the next step. Train smart and you will be back again feeling even better than when you left.


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