Three Types of Drills

solo wall drill

As some of you might know, I’ve released a video on drills for submission grappling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu (subtle marketing alert!). This has led to some interesting online and offline conversations with people on the topic of drills, which in turn has inspired me to write on the topic of drilling.

Almost everybody agrees that drilling is important, but almost everybody defines the word “drills” differently. This, in turn, leads to confusion and a lot of miscommunication when discussing drills and the value of drilling. I think the matter is clarified somewhat if we acknowledge that there are at least three major types of drills:

1 – Solo drills: in solo drills you are practicing a position, movement, or technique by yourself. Some simple examples of solo drills include the penetration step from wrestling and the ‘shrimping’ exercise where you move across the mat using lateral hip movement.

Here’s a link to a few more examples of solo drills that will definitely help specific aspects of your ground game.

2 – Cooperative 2 person drills: when you practice a cooperative 2 person drill you are working together with the other person to develop a certain motion or technique. Taking turns with your partner drilling the swinging armbar from the guard is an example of this sort of drill.

Here’s an article of BJJ world champion Vitor ‘Shaolin’ Ribeiro showing you four of his favorite partner drills for developing speed, coordination and sport-specific endurance.

3 – Competitive 2 person drills: competitive 2 person drills generally require you to accomplish a goal working against partial or full resistance from your partner. A classic competitive drill is to let your partner start fully mounted on you and then try to escape while he tries to submit you.

Here’s an article taking a more detailed look at the concept of competitive 2 person drills, including different examples of what I call ‘Targeted Sparring.’

Like all classification systems, of course, these categories have their limitations. For example there are a few drills that involve more than 2 people. Most drills, however, will fit into one of these three categories. Think about your own training for a moment, and consider whether you use drills or not, and which category they fit into if you do use them.

When I teach classes or workshops I usually use all 3 types of drills because used in the correct context each of these three types of drills can totally change your game.

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