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Setting Personal Training Goals

Have a purpose for your training (and your life) so that you can know where you are going and how to get there. Always know what your reason is for training. What is driving you? Know your bigger mission and set goals to achieve it. Without a purpose, we are directionless. Without goals, we will eventually wander off, become lost, and make no progress.

In this season, I would like to encourage you to reflect on your reason for training and to set goals. Think of three specific and measurable things you would like to accomplish. I and the other Coaches are available upon request to help you work through this. Our goal is to offer each of you support in improving your jiu jitsu game and growing personally. Use the academy as a platform for your own development.

Mat-Specific Goals:

Below are examples and thoughts on some mat-specific goals you could set for yourself in this next season.

  • Develop your own game. Begin by first focusing on learning the positions being taught in class and following the curriculum (a goal in and of itself). Then, focus on linking positions. Identify a position you would like to improve on and work on transitioning to and from it from a position you are already strong in. For example: if the Coach is working the mount position and you are very good at the back, try to link this new mount position with taking the back (which you are already strong in). This will enable you to widen your repertoire and strengthen your ability to play the game.

  • Improve your game. Confining your training to just the official class time would limit the potential of your jiu jitsu. Spend time gaining feedback from not just your Coaches but also your training partners on what is and is not working on your game. They are great resources. Take a few minutes before or after class to talk with each other. Ask things like: “How did you feel about that last position I tried?”

  • Train consistently. Consistency is key. It is the foundation for us to reach the other training goals. Try to commit to the number of days per week you have determined to train. Set a specific schedule of how often you would realistically like to train and if possible, which days you will be training. It is irrelevant how often you are training, whether it is 5 days a week, two days a week, or one day every other week. I recommend setting a schedule of which days you train. It will help you to stay on track.

  • Promotion. The goal to earn a strip or belt is excellent. It is a materialization of our work. However, promotion should not be the end goal. The goal behind the belt or stripe should be growing in your understanding of the art of jiu jitsu. If the goal is limited to just the belt it becomes a trap. The belt becomes a “thing” to achieve while not representing growth. This particular goal of promotion, when it represents growth to the student, should be measured by the ability to understand what is being taught by the instructor: insights into why the technique works and why your execution of that technique did or did not work when implemented. In understanding the art of jiu jitsu, a student should be able to explain in words to someone how and why a technique works.

  • Competition. Challenge yourself by training for and competing in a competition.

Speak with your Coach on the side to gain feedback on what you can specifically work on with your game in connection with your goals. What are the things you would like to add into your game personally?

Lifestyle goals:

As we repeatedly say: it is not about Jiu Jitsu. Jiu Jitsu can change lives. Allow your training to spark ideas and look at things from a different angle. Begin brainstorming areas for adjustments and come up with a strategy on how to build upon your successes and achieve your goals.

  • Develop friendships. Enjoy the supportive community the academy offers and develop friendships. This is best developed before and after class. Whenever possible arrive 20 minutes before class and stay 20 minutes after class to connect with others. For those who are shy or have social anxiety, the academy is a safe place to interact with new people and to develop confidence. Make a point to talk with teammates whom you do not know yet and keep up with the connections you already have. Remember: iron sharpens iron.

  • Take risks. If you tend to play it safe in life or have anxiety in taking risks, use your training to allow you to practice trying new positions during rolling. This approach will allow you to progress in your training and is also a great way of overcoming the fear of success or failure.

  • Improve physical conditioning. If we are doing the 30 jumping jacks, 20 squats, and 10 pushups in 5 minutes try to go a little faster, and get a little lower. Improve on what you have been able to do in the past to increase your endurance and strength.

  • Lose weight. Weight loss is a great goal. Simply stating: “I want to lose weight” is not enough. Having a target weight or identifying the amount of pounds to lose by a specific date is a measurable and time-bound goal. This will allow you to aim toward something concrete and know when it has been accomplished. Then, once the weight has been achieved, this goal will evolve to become the goal and journey of living a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle should include eating well and getting an adequate amount of rest. The mindset of a healthy lifestyle combats the discouragement we may be faced with when, for example, we go on vacation for two weeks and regain the weight we worked so hard to lose.

  • Strengthen your relationship with family and friends by practicing Jiu Jitsu as a shared hobby. Training with spouses, children, and friends has proven invaluable for many in our BJJ family.

Our reasons for training can evolve and change over time. Taking a previous example, your goal can start as weight loss. Then, once the desired weight is achieved, the goal can evolve to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Or our reason for training can remain consistent over our entire Jiu-Jitsu journey (i.e. to grow in our conceptual knowledge of the art of jiu jitsu). Either is acceptable. The point is to know your reason for training at any given moment. It will enrich your training and help to ensure you reach and even surpass the bar you have set for yourself.

Three Key Components to Achieving Goals

In addition to the goals being S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound) below are three critical components for achieving training goals:

  • Accountability. Going beyond goal setting, as teammates we are to hold one another accountable to each other’s stated goals. Check-in on each other periodically to ask how they are progressing. Offer encouragement, provide feedback, or help to identify anything that may be inhibiting from reaching the goal.

  • Responsible for own journey. No other teammate or Instructor can make you achieve your training goals. We each must be motivated to learn and progress, or we will remain stagnant. We will use every tool we have to teach and coach world-class jiu jitsu and create an atmosphere conducive to learning the art, but at the end of the day, we each are responsible for our own journey.

  • Power of momentum. Achieving small wins builds confidence that creates momentum that spurs better performance. It is this momentum that helps to change our perspective: gaining assurance in our abilities, optimism about the future, positive perspective on ourselves and others, the anticipation of future wins, etc. Set yourself up to gain momentum that will inspire, motivate, and energize you.


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