As we get older, we’re told what we can’t do, or how we just aren’t physically able to perform like we used to during our younger years. While it’s true to an extent, it’s not a death sentence so to speak. Being able to compete into an older age—40’s and beyond—calls for fantastic discipline, both physically and mentally.
Taking care of your body is obviously huge, and getting the right amount of sleep to allow your body to recover is as well. However, the approach for older grapplers is as much mental as it is physical, and I was lucky enough to sit down with John Connors who shared his take on being a successful grappler at an older age. We conducted a similar interview with 40 plius black belt Michio Grubbs about injury prevention for older grapplers in BJJ.
There were many good points that John made, but there was a few that I wanted to dig into a little more in depth.
Mentally Preparing Yourself For Mat Time
During my sit-down with Connors, I asked him how older grapplers find time in their schedule to train. Given their jobs and families, time is tight for certain older grapplers, so when their mat time does come around, it’s something that should be treated with great value.
John stressed heavily that before you leave for the gym, get yourself mentally prepared. If time is going to be coming at a premium, then you must know how to properly prepare yourself for training in order to get the most out of training.
If you show up, similar to what John told me, ready to work but to also enjoy the social atmosphere, then you are likely to burn some time shooting the breeze with fellow grapplers. Now, in no way is he saying don’t be social, but there is a time and place for that. A quick greeting and exchange of pleasantries, then it’s time to work!
Also, if you get the chance, take advantage of the mat time—if there is any—after class to continue to work. An extra 10-20 minutes of rolling each time you go to the gym will do a long way!
Creating A Game Plan To Better Your Skills
When you arrive to the gym, ready to go, the next step is knowing what you want to work on. In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there are countless moves and transitions that you can focus on, but that isn’t an option! If you spread yourself thin, focusing in on new moves every week, then you’ll never become truly great at something, and will be unable to offer a specific weapon.
Connors suggests knowing what you want to work on, and focus strictly on that! If you put all of your energy into it, then you’ll see great strides in your game once you begin to progress further along.
Simply put; know where you want to take your skills and be ready to put in the proper work. After seeing so many emails about mental skills and mental preperation for BJJ we put up some courses on our dvd and resource page in order too meet the demand of older grapplers and competitiors.
Age is nothing but a number, and it won’t impede upon your skills unless you allow it.