In my experience and through my student’s I find that people seem to get frustrated after they’ve had some success on the mats. Initially in our training we just accept that we’re going to get beaten over and over again. Then as we get better we start to raise the bar and our expectation for ourselves. Then it happens, we have an off day and we fall below this expectation we’ve set. The guy we controlled yesterday is all over us today. Last week we did 5 rounds and still had energy and today we were gasping for air after 2. We get off the mat frustrated and irritated. I’ve even seen some guys even lose sleep over it.
I’ve had several days like this over the years. Most of them I can directly attribute to diet. I remember once eating a greasy sandwich around 2pm and then feeling like I had a brick in my stomach at 8pm during rolling. I seriously felt like I couldn’t move. At one point I remember being inside my partner’s guard just staring at him, frustrated. Normally I could blow past his guard. During this roll I couldn’t even break it. Needless to say after training that night I was just fuming. This is back almost 9 ten years ago. Then there were days where my training partner was just on, he was feeling it that day and I wasn’t. The absolute worst cases for me came when I would get frustrated during a roll or match and would become angry. Not angry at my partner but at myself. Kind of like, “Why am I sucking so badly today!?” These are the worst because if you lose your mental composure during a roll or match, it’s hard to regain it. I’ve found that the more irritated or frustrated I become, the sloppier I get.
There are lots of reasons as to why you might have an off day. Below I’ve written 5 things to consider or remember to help prevent the frustration we might experience from a training session where we didn’t perform at our best. You can prevent some bad performances but it’s impossible from preventing all of them. You’re going to have a rough day on the mat at some point. Just keep in mind that there aren’t bad days in the gym. Yeah, you may have been beaten and performed well under your normal ability, but that was still time in the gym. You were still healthy and able to train and even if you don’t feel like it, you’re growing and progressing as a BJJ practitioner. Sometimes more than you know.
- Bad food - Diet is huge for training. You’re asking your body to perform like a high performance vehicle. High performance vehicles require high performance fuel. Think of your body like a machine and give it what it needs. Good nutrition is crucial for getting the most out of your training.
- Stay hydrated - Dehydration has to be the no. 1 reason I see people become sluggish in the gym. I know it’s my main reason. Sometimes we just get side tracked with things throughout the day and we don’t get properly hydrated. Make sure to drink lots of water throughout the day and coconut water before training isn’t a bad idea. Especially when it warms up in the summer. Performance suffers from even a minor amount of dehydration. Oh and on the subject of liquids. Stop drinking sugary energy drinks! They’re garbage and they aren’t good for you. If you need a pick-me-up, grab an espresso.
- Don’t be a dick – If you are surrounded by tough guys that push you and are competitive on your best days, then you have to expect that on some days they are going to have your number. To be honest, it’s kind of rude to come in to the gym with an air of superiority. Like you are somehow better and shouldn’t lose to one of your training partners, or that once you progress past them that they will not be able to catch up. Don’t be a dick. If you lose to you training partners, even if you beat them all over the mat yesterday, just accept it and move on. If you have any reoccurring themes or mistakes, pin point them and fix them
- Lower Belts – Something to also keep in mind is that the lower the belt level, the worse the bad days are. Once you are a higher belt you typically possess a nice buffer of skill to fall back on if you are just not feeling it. For example, even if I feel like crap I can still control a blue belt pretty easily. But if you are a blue belt and you are off, you won’t have that same amount of skill and you probably won’t fare so well against the same blue belt that I controlled so easily.
- Calm Down - If you find yourself getting flustered you need to calm yourself down. If you get frustrated to the point that you mentally break and just get angry, you’re cooked. This will only lead to more irritation. If you find yourself getting to that point, get up and take a deep breath and a water break, and then come back. If this happens during a match or roll, take a deep breath and remember that getting angry won’t help anything. You must keep your composure in BJJ. If you cannot control the mental you’ll fail with the physical.
I hope some of this stuff helps if you’re having an off day. I know these things have helped me and have helped my students over the years.
Thanks for reading!