Surviving the Slump
Are you feeling unmotivated to train? Maybe the excitement for training is gone and you don’t know if it will come back. Maybe you feel stagnant, or that you haven’t improved in a while. You might even feel that you are regressing in skill. Jiu-Jitsu slumps are a normal part of the journey and, if you haven’t hit one yet, you’re sure to at some point. The good news is, for every valley, there is a peak up ahead. If you stick with it, you will rediscover your love for training, and may even have a breakthrough waiting for you. In the meantime, there are a few ways you can get through the dreaded Jiu-Jitsu slump.
Try learning something new. Sometimes we have a lackluster attitude about training because we’re stuck in a rut, hammering away at the same moves every day. Try to incorporate a move you don’t usually use. See how it fits in your game, and try it out when sparring. It might fail miserably the first few times, but it will be a new challenge to work on; a new goal to work towards. When you eventually succeed, you will feel such a sense of accomplishment.
Narrow down your focus. There are so many moves and positions in Jiu-Jitsu, and focusing on all of them at once can be overwhelming. Pick one move or position and explore it in-depth. Take notes. Ask questions about it. Try to understand the position as completely as possible. If you narrow down your focus to just one area, it might help you to feel like you’re making progress more quickly.
Try training with different people. When we work with the same partners day in and day out, we tend to learn each other’s games very well. We may have trouble hitting moves because our partners know exactly what we are going to do and are ready with a defense. We settle into a pattern, and our rolls can begin to feel repetitive and monotonous. Try mixing it up a little bit. Visit an open mat at another gym. Attend a class you don’t normally go to. Mix up your training partners and try rolling with people you haven’t before. Sometimes a new partner will help you experience Jiu-Jitsu in a new way and give you new challenges to play with.
Watch some highlights. Find old matches that you feel happy and excited about. Relive some of your fondest memories of Jiu-Jitsu. Try to remember how you felt when you started, and what made you fall in love in the first place. You can even watch highlights of other competitors that you look up to. Find something that makes you feel pumped up about Jiu-Jitsu and let it refuel your fire.
Add in some other activities. If you’re spending all of your time at Jiu-Jitsu, it’s possible you’re just experiencing burn out. Try mixing it up a little. Go hiking or rock climbing. Play some music. Write something. It’s important to have balance in life, and if you spend time feeding some other areas of your life, you may find yourself eager to get back on the mats.
Take a break. Sometimes the answer is to keep plugging away, but sometimes we get burnt out because we need a break from training. Take a few days off, or even a week or two. Give your mind and Let yourself miss Jiu-Jitsu. Come back refreshed and ready to look at training from a new perspective. It seems counterintuitive, but sometimes we perform even better after a break.
It’s possible you may just go through a period of time when Jiu-Jitsu isn’t as fun for you. This is OK, and completely normal. It may be that you just need to persevere for a little while until you find that spark again. The enjoyment will come back, just don’t give up.