Grappling Slump

Dealing with Slumps and Ruts in Grappling Part 1

15 Ways You Can Fall Into a Slump in Grappling
Author: Jason Scully

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached as by the obstacles that one has overcome while trying to succeed.” ~ Mark Twain

I don’t know anyone who has been training in the sport of grappling for an extensive period of time that hasn’t experienced a slump or been in some sort of rut. When you are in a training slump you may experience the following:

  • You don’t feel like your improving and have the feeling that you no longer will.
  • You’re starting to feel frustrated.
  • You feel unmotivated.
  • You feel like you want to quit training all together.
  • You feel nothing is going right.

Being able to get through your slump in grappling could be the determining factor of whether you continue in your training or not. If you do continue and get through your first slump, then getting through other slumps will get easier. If you don’t get through your slump, then chances are that you probably won’t be grappling much longer. I’ve seen training slumps make and break many people.

There are many reasons why you may experience a slump and not everyone experiences the same thing. The first important step is to figure out what exactly is causing you to be in a slump in the first place. Once you figure that out, then you can work on dealing with the problem and you can get back on track with your training.

Below you will find a list of reasons why many people experience slumps. You may not be experiencing all of them, but I’m sure if you’re in a slump you are experiencing some of them. If you’re experiencing multiple things I recommend that you focus on each one you’re dealing with one at a time. The last thing you want to do is overwhelm yourself anymore then you already are. That will just counter act what you’re trying to do. Even if you’re not experiencing one of the causes below or if you’re not in a slump, it’s a great idea to read all of them anyway so you can have an idea of how you can avoid the situation all together.

Things that can result in you being in a slump:

1. Injury or Illness – The first thing you should always rule out is having an injury or an illness. If you have become injured this can be a big burden for some people and it can not only affect you physically, but it can also affect you mentally. I know many people who got injured in training and they took time off to heal. While they were taking time off they decided that they didn’t want to do much involving grappling because it got them depressed thinking about not being able to train, but what starts to happen is they begin totally clearing grappling out of their mind while they were injured. They were building a slump for themselves and a habit of not training. When they finally got back on the mat it was much harder for them to get back into it and motivated to train because they already formed a habit of not wanting to train.

2. Overtraining – This is another big factor for many who are in slumps. When you are overtraining your body doesn’t react as well as it could. You feel tired, get sick easier, you’re body is aching, lose sleep, and so on. This all leads to you being less motivated and possibly depressed about your training and then you’re definitely going to be in a slump.

3. You Have a Win Only Mentality – Having a “win only” mentally is a trait that I see in many people who train in the sport of grappling. I see it more in those who haven’t been training for an extensive period of time, but those who do have this attitude in the beginning of their grappling career may have a chance of suffering mental burnout. When you have a win only mentality, all you focus on is winning and nothing else. When you’re grappling with your training partners you want to get the tap every time and you really don’t care how you get it. The more you don’t win the more frustrated you get. The more frustrated you get, the less you want to train because you feel like you’re a loser and you’re not getting any better. While you’re starting to get these feelings you never realize that it could be because you’re focusing more on winning then actually learning.

4. Closed Minded – Being a grappling instructor I have come across many students that like doing their own thing no matter what. You can tell them that a specific technique is perfect for them, but for some reason they don’t think so and they never even try to use it. They just shut it out and do their own thing. These people are very closed minded in their training. They act like they already know the answers when chances are they don’t. As time goes on they don’t improve and they don’t understand why. As they keep doing the same things over and over, their other training partners that are more open minded towards their training and who are experimenting with new things are the ones getting better.

5. Personal Issues – It’s not just things in your training environment and how you train that can cause you to be in a slump. Your outside life can also have a huge impact on the way you train. I know this from personal experience. There have been times in my grappling career where I have experienced personal difficulties and it was almost impossible keeping those issues from affecting my training. No matter how much your grappling is suppose to be an outlet for you to get away from everyday life, it doesn’t always work out like that. I’ve had personal issues in my outside life that I just couldn’t put on the side when I was training and I’m sure many of you have also. No matter how hard I tried, I kept thinking about them in class. This would lead to me feeling down, unmotivated, and sometimes very close to being injured. This is something that can lead to a slump because your priorities in your personal life outweigh your priorities in your grappling life.

6. Lack of Sleep – Not getting enough sleep is a huge problem for most people. This not only affects your grappling and leads to slumps, it also can affect your everyday life. When you don’t get enough sleep you feel tired throughout the day. Your judgment is affected along with your reaction time. You don’t think as clearly and it leads to a big lack in motivation. This all contributes to one being in a slump.

7. Bad Experience Training Followed By Negative Thoughts – In this situation you are feeling good about your training and everything is going well. Then you go to class one day and a new grappler or a lesser experience grappler gets the best of you. You can’t understand how this happened, or why. You start to feel disappointed in yourself and thinking negative thoughts. This rolls over to your other grappling sessions that day and you do even worse because you are filled with disappointment. This is a very common scenario that happens to many people who training in the sport of grappling. They have a bad experience and then they let it steam roll right over them by constantly thinking about it along with adding negative thoughts to the equations. This only leads to frustration, lack of motivation, and the beginning of a big slump.

8. Focus on Past Failures and Future Endeavors – Many people are stuck in a slump and have negative thoughts because they can’t get past previous failures they may have encountered and/or they’re worried about how they’re going to perform in the future. They waste a lot of energy worrying about these situations they currently have no control over instead of focusing on what they’re going to do in the present. This can lead to someone being in a slump because they lose focus in their current training sessions and it hinders their learning.

9. Down on Yourself – Another common scenario that usually leads to a slump is when you are constantly down on yourself. Instead of focusing on your successes in your training you only think and dwell upon the times you didn’t do so well and the times you got tapped out. This leads to you being constantly down on yourself. You start to feel that you’re not any good and that you keep “losing” so you’re probably not going to get any better. Having these thoughts and building upon them could lead to a major slump that can be hard to get out of.

10. Compare Yourself To Others – If you constantly compare yourself to others and you don’t focus on just your training alone, then this can lead to you possibly falling into an area where you are in a slump. Many people focus a lot on what their training partners are doing. They pay attention to their partner’s successes and to their partner’s failures and they compare those situations to themselves. If you see one of your partners who has been training just as long as you have doing very well in grappling but you’re not, this can lead to you wondering why that person is excelling and you’re not. While for some, this situation can be a source of motivation. For many others it only leads to self-doubt and frustration. When you start to experience these negative feelings it hinders your learning and then next thing you know, you’re in a slump.

11. You Achieved A Goal or Won Something and Then Became Unmotivated – This is another common situation that can lead to being in a slump. What happens to some individuals is they work hard, test themselves in a competition setting, and do well. After they do well they feel they deserve some time to relax and take off. This is definitely ok for most people, but for some it is counterintuitive. During the relaxing off time they start to get comfortable with not doing much. Then as time goes on it becomes a habit. It becomes harder and harder to get into the gym which leads to them not getting better and improving since the last time they competed. This is a very common scenario for some people after their first competition.

12. Overanalyzing and Not Trusting Your Gut and Instincts – Have you ever heard anyone say to you, “Don’t think too much”? Have they ever told you just to react and not overanalyze things. The reason you hear someone say this to you sometimes is because you’re constantly analyzing a situation and thinking about it while never actually getting started. You’re always trying to figure out the right thing to do before you even do it. Before you know it, time has flown by and you did nothing. This can definitely lead to a slump and a decrease in learning.

13. Your Practice Isn’t Suited Well For You – Another reason why you might be experiencing a slump is because you may have come to a point where you practicing environment isn’t quite for you anymore. In the beginning you should always improve because you’re fresh and you don’t know much, but as you are training more you are going to need a training environment that can adapt to your adjustments. For example let’s say you’re someone who loves training and when you go to the gym to train you want to get as much drilling in as possible and as much rolling. Then after training you’re more than happy to talk with your peers. However the training environment doesn’t match. It’s more of a club environment where the students sit and talk just as much as they drill. This is an environment that isn’t good for your particular training style. You may also have an instructor who tries to motivate you by yelling, while you don’t particularly respond well to this type of coaching style. If this is also your case, then it can cause you to shut down and really slow down your learning.

14. Laziness and Haven’t Been Training Enough – Some people want to do a grappling sport and be the best they can be, but at the same time they don’t want to put in the work to get there. They want to be good right away. They don’t really like hard workouts and they don’t drill as much as they could. These are the lazy people. They train once a week when they can train more and they drill 10 times max when they probably could have drilled the same technique 20 times. If you are this type of person there is going to be a chance of you being in a slump for the duration of your grappling career.

15. Your Partners Have Figured Out Your Game – One of the most common reasons why you might fall into a slump is because your training partners have figured out your game. They know exactly what your favorite techniques are and how you react. This makes it much harder for you to do what you want when you’re rolling live. It’s very important that you realize that this is happening and you work on adjusting your game so you can keep moving forward. You can’t keep doing the same things over and over because you won’t get the results you used to. You have to vary up your game to make your training partners have to catch up again.

The big question to ask is, “Are these easy to fix?” Some may be easier to deal with than others and some will be very hard to deal with, but you should be able to correct all of them. While focusing on getting out of your slump you want to do your best to be patient, always thinking about the positives and never the negatives. The reason many people have trouble getting out of slumps is because they are constantly building a mountain of negative thoughts in their brain. Be happy that you have the opportunity to train and be in this world in the first place and that will be your first step to dealing with slumps that get in your way.

Part 2 of “Dealing with Slumps and Ruts of Grappling” will go over what steps you can take to concur each one of these slump causing areas.

Thank you for reading!

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