The Importance of Repetition
Repetition is a key factor to mastering any movement or technique. However, we tend to forget how important it really is. Every sport requires constant repetition of movements. If we look at basketball for a moment you can see just how important repetition is. When you are first learning to shoot a foul shot in basketball your coach can show you how to shoot the ball properly but that does not mean you will make a basket. Once you know how to shoot the ball properly it is then up to the repetition of shooting the ball to build the other elements that, when they all harmonize, will put the ball in the basket...
The technique of shooting the ball is only one element of actually making a basket. A player needs to understand force management. How much force should they use to make a shot from the foul line or eventually the 3 point line? If to much force is used they will over shoot and if to little they will under shoot. They need to know exactly how much force needs to be used. A player would also have to understand posture and alignment. Accuracy is dependent on force management, posture and good alignment.
After many repetitions the player will eventually develop a good foul shot. Now they need to figure the same elements out from every angle and distance of the court to be able to apply them without thought at any given moment to be a good shooter. It's pretty amazing that we can even do things like that but repetitions build muscle memory and that's what it takes. To go even further, the player now should start back at the foul line with a defender in front. Sure they can make a foul shot but can they make it with a defender? This adds the elements of timing,set ups, and balance to the equation. They should start drilling the shot over and over with defenders now. Once they get good at that they should work it from every where and try new creative drills in order to ensure that when the game time comes, they can make that shot.
A players coach can only tell them so much before he says," Now just stand at the foul line and start shooting.". In jiu-jitsu it is the same way. You have to constantly be repeating your movements over and over again to get the feel of it. It is one thing to know how to do it but to get the feel for it is essential. You have to understand force management, posture and alignment just to succeed in a cooperative drill. Then after you develop the feel for a technique you need to begin drilling it with aliveness to learn the timing and balance. Lastly, you will then drill it with resistance to understand how to set it up and link it to the rest of the game.
If you skip out on the repetition of your techniques, you will still be that player who knows how to shoot a ball but can never make a basket. What good is it to know how to shoot a ball if you can not make a basket? In class, your instructor teaches you the moves and you rep them and drill them but you need to be constantly doing that on your own as well during open mat sessions or whenever you can. The down fall of jiu-jitsu is that live sparring can be so much fun that we choose to do that instead of doing focused drills when we should be. Repetition drills are what better your game in the end. You don't have to just keep repeating a move over and over again. Once you can make 5 out of 5 foul shots you can start adding different elements to the foul shot to make it a better drill at that point. So when you learn a new guard sweep, it is important even after you get the basic idea of how to do the move, to keep repeating it over and over again until you don't have to think about the steps anymore. Understand your force management, posture and alignment. Once you smooth it out you need to add some movement with your partner to develop timing and balance. Eventually, add some real resistance to learn your set ups and pace of the technique. If you do these things and become more and more creative with them as you excel in the move, you will reap the benefits of repetition training and EXCEL MUCH FASTER in your BJJ GAME!
Here is an old video I made back in 2008 demonstrating this very idea.