I have had to have a few long breaks whilst training BJJ and have really hated the forced time off the mats.
During these times I have come up with a number of ways of coping with this time away from training.
If you have been training for a while being side lined because of an injury could leave a massive void in your life, which can have a big impact on you.
I think the key to having time off due to injury is keeping BJJ on your mind and not just forgetting about your training. This is advice that came from the great Chris Haueter and it is definitely sound advice. It is important that whilst you are injured and so much has been taken away from you that you stay positive. So that is what I am focussing on, staying positive with the following 8 ways to overcome the injury blues.
1. If your injury is not too bad and you are still able to get to your academy, then keep going down. Ask your coach if he is ok with your observing the classes. Now some may consider this a form of cruel torture, watching the class and not being able to participate what could be worse? But realistically this will keep you up to speed with what is being taught in class, so you don’t fall behind too much. Plus it has the added benefit of keeping you in touch with your friend and involved with what’s happening at the academy and gets rid of that feeling of being isolated from BJJ.
2. You may not be able to train BJJ but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep training. Cross training with some other activity can help keep you in shape until you get back on the mats. When I had my shoulder surgery as soon as I could I started going to the gym. I couldn’t do any upper body work at the time, I did some leg press work and some cardio work on a stationary bike leg press. In addition to this I went on to discovered yoga. I wasn’t strong enough to go back to BJJ, but yoga helped me strengthen up and get used to my body again.
If you can get to your academy or the gym then that will be great, but being injured can restrict your travelling ability. There are a lot of things that you can do at home that will help you get through your recovery.
3. Watching BJJ videos is a really good option. Either instructionals or competitions are good for this. I have a stack of Instructional DVD’s that I am slowly working my way through. If you use the time you would have spent at the academy to watch and review these it will keep you focussed on the learning aspect that you are missing out on. Allowing you to filter out the parts that will work for your game and give you something to work on once you get back. You don’t need expensive instructional videos to do this watching You Tube clips of competitions and the individual fights can still keep your BJJ mind focussed.
4. Next on from videos is reading books. There are a number of great BJJ books out there, like the University of Jiu Jitsu or Drill to Win which can provide inspiration for your BJJ. These are big books and take a while to read. But you know will have the time to dip and absorb the information. Having the time to get the most out of these books can be awkward, if you spend your time working or training. So this is a positive opportunity to get some reading time in.
5. Something that would almost go along with the watching of videos and reading is visualisation. This is something that has been used by a lot of high level athletes very successfully and is a pretty simple process. So you can can use this technique to ‘drill’ a technique or training session. By imagining a drill, complete with how you are supposed to interact with your partner/opponent. While imagining the drills, you should try to imagine the detail and the way it feels to perform in the desired way. This is by using all of your senses, to see or feel yourself drilling or see your partner’s reactions hits your tactile senses. Imagining how your body feels, the weight of your partner’s body or the feel of the gi. Thinking of the sound of partner stressing under your pressure or your coach’s voice giving instructions, works the auditory. You could even imagine the smell of your gym. Effectively trying to make it as “real” as possible for your brain. This means using the mind, You can drill techniques with these images over and over, enhancing the skill through repetition, similar to physical practice. Yes this all sounds a lot like The Matrix but this really does work. .
6. Find an alternative way to relax – Mindfulness has enjoyed a tremendous surge in popularity in the past decade, not only in the media but also with large companies like Google encouraging it amongst staff. The practice has moved from the Buddhist concept to a less spiritual and a more self healing process. A number of scientific studies have shown that mindfulness reduces the amount of time you spend on looking at the negatives of a situation (like being injured). Plus it reduces stress and increases cognitive flexibility, enabling you to look at both sides of a situation. For more details on the benefits of mindfulness have a look here. Also for some free meditation downloads check these guys out here.
7. Goal setting – Something else you can consider is looking beyond the current period of injury to something to focus on and encourage you back on the mat. You could identify a competition you want to go for after your recovery. This can stimulate your training once you are back on the mats too and help you make up for lost time.
8. Save the money that you would have spent of training or the gas to get you to training. This is something I did, I used the money for some private lessons once I could get back to training. This helped build my confidence around my injury, but also helped me catch up in areas that I felt I had fell behind in. You may not like the private class idea but how about a nice new gi or rashguard? Or even the cost of the competition you thought about entering as your goal? What ever you spend it on try and keep it BJJ focussed so at least you will get something positive to your sport from being away from it for a while.
Some of these have worked for me on a personal level when I was going through a long layoff from training. It can be a negative time, but using a few of the above ideas can help you take some positives from the situation and stay focussed on your jiu jitsu.