What Should You Do More Of: Rolling Or Drilling?

The great debate, should you spend more of your time rolling or drilling? I’ve heard many conflicting opinions on this topic. I might as well throw my own opinion in the mix.

From my experience training at several different clubs I’ve seen the full spectrum of training views on this topic, I also see a pattern. One club I trained at quickly drills a couple of techniques as a warm up at the beginning of class then rolls for the rest of the time. One club drills technique for about half the class every day and then drills for the second half with one day that is all rolling. Another club drills for the full class for most day with a couple of rolling days in the week.

The club that rolls the most by far has the best Jiu Jitsu and everyone there seems to progress quickly. The club where they roll a little more than half the time is in the middle. The club that spends the majority of its time drilling is further behind and people seem to progress slowly there.

I’ve noticed this in my own training as well. When I was at the first club I progressed much quicker and at the school where we mostly drill I seem to progress much slower.

I think there are two main factors here, first is that one club has much more rolling time in which they are only focusing on technique that works in a live roll. Second is that the club where people are advancing quicker is that they are consistently rolling. They roll every class while the other club rolls for two full classes back to back and then there’s no rolling until next week. This time off really seems to interrupt my growth as well as other students.

So obviously in my opinion you should roll as much as possible however there is definitely a time and place for drilling, especially when you are just starting. I’ve noticed that new students who get as many reps in on a move will pick it up quicker in rolling. Once they have a few techniques down however, they seem to advance much quicker if they focus their time on rolling instead of drilling.

I was recently listening to an episode of the Grappling Central Podcast with Josh “Star-lord” Leduc. If you don’t know about him he’s currently the number one contender for the Unified Catch Wrestling title and he’s a big component of the leg lock game. Josh talks about his training style and he says that the majority of it is rolling based. If he’s trying a new technique he will work it out in a roll on beginners and then work his way up until it works on everyone. I find this same strategy works for me as well, not for the Catch Wrestling title of course but you get the point.

So my personal recommendation based on my experience is to spent the majority of your time rolling instead of drilling unless you’re a complete beginner. But this is just a blue belts opinion, take it with a grain of salt. Some high level black belts will tell you the opposite and others will tell you the same as me. Find what works for you.

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