BJJ Rolling Tips: How to Get the Most Out of Every Class (With Examples)

I can’t get on the mats as much as I’d like. So I was looking for some BJJ rolling tips… and found these ways how to get the most out of every Jiu Jitsu class

Now, some of these are common sense…

…but some are surprising to me!

They’re ways how to:

Learn more.

Practice the right things.

Retain more.

Garry Tonon BJJ Quote About Getting Submitted 15 Times Per 5 Round Training Session

Let’s get started:

Don’t start rolling on your knees

This is a great quote from UFC Heavyweight and Metamoris Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett:

Live wrestling/rolling with both wrestlers/grapplers starting on their knees. Practically anyone who trains in the current grappling climate has seen it.

For some gyms it’s the only way they start and I’ll tell you why no matter the case…

You’re wasting your time (or your student’s time in the case of coaches) doing it.

First and foremost fights and grappling matches don’t start on your knees.

In fact I can’t think of any sports that do besides Inuit Kneel Jumping (Google that sh*t. It’s a real sport) and last I checked that’s not the sport we were training for.

I can remember one of the first things my high school wrestling coach said to me “Nice to meet you.” and the second thing being “GET OFF YOUR F**KING KNEES!

It’s not just him. There’s plenty more who have the same view:

Takedowns from The Knees in BJJ Are a Waste of Time

So what should you do?

Well, unless your school has a rule against it…

Start rolling in a position you want to work on

Now, there’s probably not too many training partners who want you to start in side-control to let you work on that head-arm triangle…

…but there’s plenty that will let you start in a weaker position.

BJJ Rolling Tips Start Position You Want to Work On

Evolve MMA (a great blog to follow) have this to say:

Instead of starting with your favorite guard pass or pulling your favorite guard, why not try a position where you’re at a disadvantage.

It might be a huge blow to your ego, and you might get tapped out, but it’s OK. The more you practice this position, the better you’ll get and eventually you can add it to your arsenal of techniques.

You may not realize it, but it’s one of the easiest ways to improve in a short amount of time.

Now I’m starting most of my rolls with my back taken or bottom of the mount…

…it’s REALLY helping my escapes and submission defense

BJJ Gift Ideas - The Ace of Escapes by MMA Leech

[I’ll do a review soon, but The Ace of Escapes by Gustavo Gasperin has been awesome]

Spend most of your time rolling with people less skilled than you

Of all of the BJJ rolling tips, this one was the biggest surprise for me:

It is a common misunderstanding that you should always be training with people better than yourself

This is from John Danaher, one of BJJ‘s greatest coaches. This is why:

It’s very very hard to develop your technical skills on people that are better than you

So what happens if you do spend most of your time rolling with higher belts?

You will develop your defensive skills but ultimately the point of Jiu Jitsu is to defeat people and not to become difficult to submit

BJJ Rolling Tips How to Get the Most Out of Every Class (With Examples)

The answer:

About 80 to 90 percent of your training should be with people who are significantly lower in skill level than you are…

…and then as you get into competition mode, you start training with guys who are your own skill level or better

He’s not alone with this viewpoint:

Read: Should You Roll With Higher or Lower Belts in BJJ? (And Why It Matters)

Warm-up with movement drills NOT static stretches

Like to get on the mats early? Good.

But… static stretches before class are a waste of your time. They won’t make you more flexible, and it doesn’t decrease your risk of injury.

Instead: Do BJJ specific movements and solo drills.

The Top 9 BJJ Solo Drills to Improve Your Jiu Jitsu Home Warm-Up

These will move your joints through the ranges of movement you’re about to experience. They’ll prepare your body for what it’s about to do.

And it’s another chance to refine your movement patterns.


Your flexibility WILL BE BETTER after warming up with solo drills than it would be with static stretching

Read: The 9 Best BJJ Solo Drills that Will Improve Your Jiu Jitsu

Save your stretching for later… because the best way to get flexible with static stretches is to do them when you’re warm

(or check out Yoga for BJJ)

Use a training journal and take notes

The guys over at Fenix BJJ summed it up really well:

…if you can’t guarantee your presence for more than 2-3 times a week, it will definitely be helpful to take notes. Try to be as detailed as possible in your note-taking. After all, this will help you go over everything you learned in classes you managed to attend.

It’s something I’ve just started doing, and wish I’d started earlier:

Even students who can attend training sessions regularly do it. After all, writing new information down is a proven method of memorizing it better and faster.

Breaking Bad is one of my favourite TV shows, so I got this BJJ Training Journal from Amazon:

[I’ve also used post it notes to divide it into chapters based on the hierarchy of positions and My BJJ Techniques Checklist]

Set a training goal for every class

In Breaking Muscle’s article about goal setting while rolling, this quote really stood out:

“…if you approach rolling with the mindset of, “How many people can I tap out,” then you are going to end up with a short and unsuccessful BJJ career. Rolling is not about how many people you “beat” or the number of points you score. It’s about improving.”

Some examples of some good “Rolling Goals” I’ve come across include:

  • Focusing on a specific principle of Jiu Jitsu (e.g. The 7 P’s of Guard Passing)
  • Focusing on a particular BJJ Concept from The BJJ Formula (e.g. trying to turn Frames into Levers)
  • Improving escapes by starting from bad positions
  • Getting to certain target positions (e.g. taking the back)
  • Working a specific technique
  • Trying to put into practice what you’ve just learned

BJJ Infographic Training Tips and Training Goals One Roll One Goal

BJJ Rolling Tips: Summary

These BJJ rolling tips can be summed-up in one paragraph:

Warm up with solo drills. Spend most of your time rolling with people of lower skill. Don’t start on your knees. Start in a position you want to improve at. Have a training goal for each session.

Comment below: what are YOUR favourite BJJ rolling tips?

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