Do You Use Visualization When Grappling? If Not, You Should

Ideally, you should be training BJJ at least 3-4 times a week to see improvement in your game.

Seoi nage set up, execute, give up my back: this sequence was continual for a very long time no matter who showed me how to do it. I would always give my back up and immediately be in a bad position. The good thing with this was that my back escapes became good. I remember reading an article on the power of visualization and how it helps entrepreneurs become successful. I read about keeping the end in mind, so I figured, as I do with everything these days, if this would translate to jiu-jitsu. For the next couple of weeks I was away with work, consistently thinking and watching instructionals. When it came time to roll when I was home I picked one of the guys at my skill level and went for it. As soon as we bumped hands I was picturing myself in a strong scarf hold after a perfect execution of the seoi nage.

Set up, execute, modified scarf hold. I did it!

Instantly I became a believer in visualization techniques in BJJ.

Visualizing helps to increase mental toughness as well, making you believe that you can complete a task. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a very mental game. You have two choices: believe you will succeed or think that you will fail. It is important to stay in control of your mind and only think positive thoughts so that you can perform well.

Visualization Techniques

Personally, I use visualization all the time. I despise running. It is one thing that I cannot seem to like no matter how much I practice it. Nevertheless, I continue to run and participate in 5K’s and do extra hard running workouts. When I run and start to get tired, I picture myself on the mats during a tough roll, or in competition. I wouldn’t just give up when things get tough, so why the hell would I stop doing something as easy as a run? This mental image causes my legs to pick up the pace and mentally I feel as though I have more to give in that workout. There is a saying from a Navy Seal that goes “When you feel as though you are at your capacity, you are actually only at 40%. You still have another 60% you can give.”

Other times like above, when I want to work on certain aspects of my BJJ game I will think about the end and how it looks, I find it easier to execute something when I know where I am going. Working back through the steps when I already know the destination always seems easier than trying to figure it out step by step.

Set Your Goal

Before you can visualize, decide what you want to accomplish by visualizing. This can be a takedown, sweep, pass or submission or a hundred other different goals. Decide what you want to get better at and improve. I like to focus on one of each per week. Once you have a clear idea, then you are all set for the rest of the process.

Produce A Clear Picture in Your Mind

In your mind, the clearer you can picture yourself doing something, the more effective this process will be. You will be able to execute your moves better if you feel like you are in the moment and have already executed them.

Follow The Steps Of The Movement In Your Mind

When the image is in your head, see yourself going through the motions. Look at the setup in your head, your position, and even your attitude. Then look at how you move through the process of the movement. By following the steps, it will help you understand how to effectively go through the movement. Or if you are like me, work backwards. You know where you want to end up follow the steps backward to you get to where you currently are.

Get in a Good Physical Position

After watching it in your mind, get ready to do it in real life. Get in the correct setup and steady your nerves. Having a positive attitude will help tremendously when getting ready to do a movement. Send good vibes and do it!

Perform The Movement In Real Life

Here is the fun part! Just go for it! You have done all these steps and are ready to attack the movement with everything you have. Getting the execution 100% will feel amazing! Even if you cannot get it, take a breath, walk it off, and then go for it again. This is the beauty of jiu-jitsu!

Visualization can help you perform a movement that you were afraid of or thought you could not do. Even a small tool like picturing yourself in your head can help you. Whatever your goal is, give it all you got and go big!

See you on the mats!


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