Why You Might be an “Over Skilled” BJJ Athlete

This may sound funny at first but stick with me for a minute and you’ll see what I mean…

I’d say that at least 90% of the athletes I’ve worked with are “over skilled” for their sport.

Go ahead, shake your head and wonder what I’ve been smoking. Few athletes consider their skill level to be adequate, much less that they have too much of it.

However, I’m not talking about total amount of skill – which can always use some work –I’m talking about their skill level in relationship to their body’s ability to support that skill.

To understand what I mean let me introduce you to the Optimum Performance Pyramid (OPP)…

Why you might be an “over skilled” BJJ athlete…

As you can see the OPP has 3 levels and not all of those levels are equal. Like a real pyramid, the OPP requires a wide base and gets more narrow as you reach the top.

At the top is the Technical Skill we need for our sport and improving it is the ultimately goal of any athlete’s program. However, it is also built on our Functional Movement and Performance.

Functional Movement is your basic ability to move freely.

Being able to touch your toes, perform an effortless bodyweight squat and pass the Functional Movement Screen are all examples of things at this level.

This level isn’t about capacity as much as it is about maintaining quality of your ability to move and also relates closely with your ability to avoid overuse injuries.

Functional Performance is your ability to create strength and power while also maintain the quality of the movement being used.

Being able to do a 1.5-2 X bodyweight deadlift, 5 strict chin ups or an effortless Turkish Get Up with a 24 kg kettlebell are all examples of goals for this level.

This level is about stress proofing your movement so that when you move to the next level you’re body won’t revert to bad habits.

Technical Skill is your ability to apply your movement and strength in a specific way for your sport.

This level also includes sport specific conditioning workouts as well. This is where it all comes together and the stronger you are in this area the more dominant you can be in your sport.

This means that if you neglect the foundational levels and instead focus most of your energy on the top level then you can build a lopsided pyramid. When this happens the athlete is technically “over skilled” since it will be hard expand on the top level without first expanding the base.

In addition, the “over skilled” BJJ athlete will start to hit long plateaus in their skill progression and/ or start to suffer more injuries as their body tries to keep up without the movement and strength it needs to do it efficiently.

So, hopefully you’re starting to look at the term “over skilled” a bit differently. Few of us are ever happy with out overall skill development but often times the fastest way to improve our skills is to focus on improving our our fundamental movement and strength.

As a BJJ athlete this knowledge should motivate you to take a hard look at what your OPP looks like.

We all know that technique is King but if you’ve been neglecting the other levels of the OPP then you might be setting yourself up for an injury and/ or a lot of frustration down the road.

If you have any questions about the OPP and how it might apply to your situation or an experience with how this concept helped your BJJ game then please post a comment below.

And if you liked this article pleas click one of the Like or Share buttons below to help spread the word.

Until next time…

Roll Strong,

James Wilson

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Comments (1)

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    Jamie Murray

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    Agreed. I can only train once or twice a week, am mid 40s and it’s my bodyweight exercise and yoga compensatory exercises that are laying the foundation for my BJJ progress.

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