Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Importance of Game Plans

This is part 4 of a series on the mental side of fighting and training.   Make sure you read the first 3 parts!

1. Intro and Goal Setting
2. Visualization and Positive Self Talk
3.  Fight Day Strategy

I touched on having a game plan a little bit in the visualization part of the series, but didn't really get into it much. Just said that you should be visualizing yourself executing your game plan. So, what exactly goes in the game plan and what do you do with it?

Your game plan should be simple. Those t-shirts and internet memes that say "Pull. Sweep. Submit" aren't far off from a solid game plan. It's a tad on the simplified side, but here is what you don't want your game plan to look like: "First, I'll grip with my left hand, then the right. If they step with their left, I'll go to the right. Then, I'll step in with my left, and scoop up their right leg for a single..."  Get the idea? That is way too detailed, way too much information.

Game plans can't account for every single scenario either. There shouldn't be 1000 "ifs" in your plan.  One or two is OK, but if your plan involves a lot of "ifs", then you are counting on your plan not being effective, and you need to go back to #2 and get that head on straight. Here's an example of an OK "if" in your game plan.  "Double leg straight to side control. If they get a guard, pass right away before they can close it. Follow with knee on belly to cross choke / armbar sequence.".  As you can see, there is one "if" but it resolves to the same place so we don't have a million branches.

So you've got a plan, now what?

Drill, Drill, Drill. You know the saying, "you fight how you train" or "perfect practice makes perfect" or "drill to win". All of these apply.  You need to drill all aspects of your game plan, individually, and together.    If your game plan is to get a double leg, you need to start standing when you roll.  If your game plan is to do a triangle from side control, don't pull guard every time you roll.

Now, it's important to note that I'm not saying always roll exactly what you want to do in a fight, because then you will never expand your game and never really learn jiu jitsu. But the week or two leading up to your competition should be full of very focused drilling and rolling. This is not the time to be experimenting with new techniques and playing around in your rolls. 

When your drilling your game plan, work together with your partner, let them know your game plan, so they can help you. Have them purposefully throw a wrench into your plan by reacting differently, so you can work on your reactions to all situations. Jiu jitsu may be competed as in individual sport, but it is most definitely a team sport. You will need your team mates to help get your game plan sorted and ready, and you will need to help them with the same!

There are some people out there who are against having a game plan. They feel like if they have a game plan, and something goes wrong, they will be lost like a fish out of water. But, in my opinion, if you don't have a game plan, you are already that fish out of water. If you are just reacting to what the other person does, you're going to be one step behind, the entire match. There may be a time that your game plan doesn't work out. Maybe they pulled guard faster then you could, maybe they've got legs that are a million miles long and got their guard around quick before you could pass. It doesn't matter why; at this point, you just go back to the jiu jitsu you know, and get yourself to a point that your game plan comes back into play.  

Like all the other factors in the mental side of the sport, this is going to take time to develop and work into your training and competition habits. Having a game plan will help you visualize more effectively and help you become more confident in your fights. 

So, what's your game plan?  How are you training to be able to implement it?  Where are you going to give it a test next?

See you on the mats!

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