In mainstream sports, it’s well known that being a better athlete is a big advantage. Looking after your strength and conditioning, diet, and recovery protocols is a sure way to get better results in competition. Jiu Jitsu is no different. As the sport becomes more professional, competitors are investing more time and money into these activities when they’re not on the mat. They are doing these things because they work. A stronger and better conditioned athlete will get better results in training and competition than if they had less of those attributes. The physical side of Jiu Jitsu is obvious, but is it more important than the mental side? And how can you use your mind to develop better Jiu Jitsu without always having to use your body? Below are three tips for using your mind to develop better Jiu Jitsu.

Reflect on your Training and Competition Matches

While you’re training, you generally improve your timing, your conditioning, and your use of strategy. However, much of your technique development happens while reflecting on your matches. You think about the things that worked and the things that didn’t. You then think of way you could have done better. These are the thoughts that inform your next training session. This cyclical process of evaluation and making adjustments is how your technique evolves. Of course, your instructor will provide technical options for your problems, but it’s still useful to develop your own analytical skills. The insights you come to through your own trial and error will stick with you throughout your Jiu Jitsu journey.

Watch High Level Competitors

Nothing replaces mat time as Jiu Jitsu is predicated upon feeling the technique and your opponent’s reactions. Watching high level Jiu Jitsu, however, can be a great supplement to your training. When we watch a lot of Jiu Jitsu, we tend to mimic what we’re seeing. This doesn’t mean we can become black belt world champions simply by watching their matches. But it does mean that we can pick up on some of the patterns and replicate them to the best of our abilities. Watching matches also gives you ideas for certain techniques or positions. If a high-level black belt is using a technique successfully on another high-level black belt, you know the move works, so it gives you confidence when trying to apply the move yourself.

Visualize Yourself Successfully Performing Techniques

There have been multiple studies on visualization and its effects on performance. In one popular study, athletes were asked to physically practice free throws while other athletes were asked to visualize themselves making free throws in their minds. The study found that the athletes that visualized showed nearly the same performance as those who physically practiced. Visualization should not replace physical training, but instead should be used when your body is tired or when you’re injured and can’t train.

Debating whether Jiu Jitsu is more physical or more mental is very difficult because both elements are essential. However, you cannot deny the benefits of additional mental training off the mat. How do you use your brain to develop better Jiu Jitsu? Let us know in the comments!