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Is Setting Goals In Jiu Jitsu Worth It?

Is Setting Goals In Jiu Jitsu Worth It?


A brief conversation on setting goals and evaluating performance.

Evaluating performance and setting goals is key for life. It is definitely of paramount importance in Jiu Jitsu as well.  John Danaher has been talking about setting goals in many of his recent Facebook posts. In order to effectively set goals, it is necessary to evaluate your performance. Feedback is a great way to evaluate your performance.  Naturally, training partners, in addition to your own observations, should also be a good source of feedback. Sometimes the feedback from training partners is really blunt; "Stop pulling bottom side control so much". Other times the advice is more tactful. I received some really great feedback and was given a goal many years ago, as a white belt, that I still implement on occasion today. The advice was to start every roll, for the next 6 months, in guard. The logic behind this advice was that my guard needed improvement in comparison to other aspects of my game. This advice led me to consistently target a weaker area.

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 As a white belt, this was hard.  Like most white belts, my ego was not quite in check. Years later, I know how silly that sounds to struggle with a white belt ego. But it was a tough pill for a beginner to swallow.  People with a skill level that was comparable in other positions now dominated me because I started every roll in my worst position. Every roll now started with me in guard and having the same mental conversation. "Sure pass my guard. I would love to enjoy some shoulder pressure and maybe a little knee on belly." However, as time went by, the conversation changed in my head, "What are some stretches that I can do so my hips won’t be so tight." Then the conversation in my head evolved to more concrete strategy; "What is half butterfly guard and how can I develop a series of submission and sweeps off of it?" My guard improved considerably over the course of 6 months. I was genuinely surprised when the 6 months was up and saw the degree of transformation I had obtained. I am not saying that I am a prodigy at guard then or now. I am simply advocating that evaluating performance and setting clearly defined goals is a great way to find improvement and see a higher rate of return.

What are some ways you structure your training? What goals do you set? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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