Practice makes perfect. This holds true for most skills in life, and it certainly holds true when it comes to BJJ. Theoretical knowledge is not enough. How many times have you found yourself being unable to replicate the techniques shown in the YouTube video you watched the night before? The concepts and movements must become intuition and the details must be mastered. This can only be done through extensive practice. So, let’s roll.
Try to roll as many rounds per BJJ training session as possible. You will need a lot of time to master the movements and techniques. Listen to your body, it will tell you how much you can take and when it is too much. Follow a few simple concepts to train a lot without burning out or getting injured.
How many rounds do BJJ athletes roll on average?
We consulted reddit on how many rounds BJJ athletes usually roll per week. On average the athletes seem to do 5-minute rounds. The histogram below shows how many times each number was mentioned. For example, 21 athletes stated that they roll 10 to 20 rounds per week of BJJ training.
On average BJJ athletes roll about 26 rounds (5 minutes each) per week of BJJ training. The histogram illustrates that most athletes roll about 10 to 30 rounds per week of BJJ. The number of athletes rolling significantly more than average cannot be neglected though. This fits our own experiences where some athletes, usually the most competitive, are putting in a lot more work.
For the average BJJ athlete training around 4 times a week this comes down to 6.5 rolls per training sessions which is definitely achievable for anybody, especially when including positional sparring rounds.
The amount of time one can invest surely depends on one’s life circumstances like age, family situation, health, job and many more. Don’t get hung up on the fact someone can invest more time than you. Go at your own pace. Invest however much time you can spare, and it will pay off.
The ideal roll in BJJ
Most schools and athletes seem to prefer 5 min rounds. This seems reasonable for most athletes since competition rounds have around the same length for most athletes. If want to focus on endurance and conditioning there no need to extend rounds any longer, just switch partner without taking breaks.
There is no single ideal intensity for a training roll. High intensity rolls are important and beneficial, especially leading up to a competition, but you cannot and should not roll hard every time. Rolling to hard to much is a recipe for injury and can make you compromise technique. Flow rolling or rolling with low intensity gives you the time to think and focus on new techniques. These rolls are not as taxing on your body and can help you to go from drilling a technique to applying it in combat. Lastly, moderate intensity rolls should take up the bulk of your rolling time. You will get enough resistance to give you a realistic sense of your capabilities without the downsides of going to hard.
Consider the following factors when deciding on future rolls and don’t forget to talk to your partner or coach if any of these are violated.
- Respect: You and your training partner should respect and trust each other. This is essential when training combat sports since there inherently is risk of injury.
- Communication: You should be able to communicate your desired intensity with your partner as well as specific positions or techniques you might want to work on.
- Control: Ideally your training partner moves controlled, which does not mean slow, to ensure safety.
- Hygiene: It can be really disgusting if a potential training partner does not have the basic hygiene needed to take part in a sport that brings people that close together. Body odor and unwashed clothing can be off-putting. But beside an unpleasant experience compromised hygiene greatly increases the chance for health threads like skin infections.
- Experience: This is certainly no must-have, but it is always nice to roll with experienced Athletes. They might beat you up, but you can learn a lot from them, and they will often have great advice for you after your roll.
- Chemistry: Ideally your simply enjoy rolling with your training partner. Maybe your moves are simply flowing nice, or you both just can’t stop cracking jokes.
Finally, bring the qualities listed above yourself. You don’t want to be the guy everyone is trying to dodge. Try to enrich each other while having a good time.
Which training partners to avoid when rolling
You have seen the traits that make a good training partner above. We generally recommend to roll with as many different partners as possible to ensure you get comfortable rolling with and reacting to different body types and fighting styles. There are some exceptions though. It is ok to say no to a roll. You are not obligated to roll with everybody. Furthermore, it is also ok to stop a roll if you feel like things are not steering in the right direction. The following two principles should never be violated:
Safety should always be your first concern when considering a roll. Is your partner moving in a controlled manner? Is he/she much bigger than you? Try to have an eye on your surrounding athletes before you agree to roll. There is nothing worse than an unnecessary injury inflicted by a careless training partner. Injuries are fairly common in BJJ and you must be aware of it. Most of the time it is more dangerous to roll with a mid-sized beginner than with a heavyweight black belt. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s all about how controlled someone moves.
It can be really disgusting if a potential training partner does not have the basic hygiene needed to take part in a sport that brings people that close together. Body odor and unwashed clothing can be off-putting. Besides an unpleasant experience compromised hygiene greatly increases the chance for health threads like skin infections.
Rolling is arguably the best part of BJJ. It improves your technique, intuition, strength, conditioning and is a ton of fun. It should be an essential part of every training session. With the right approach and a few simple principles, you will be able to enjoy it and roll for a long time.