Developing a Gameplan: The Beginner Phase

Third Law BJJ and BJJ Engineer, naples, FL: Developing A Gameplan for BJJ!

The first step to writing a successful gameplan is to start of the right foot and take notes in class religiously ( Second there is no such thing as one gameplan. At the bare minimum you should have 2. One should be a practice gameplan to be executed at class. This is the one in which you will incorporate new techniques you have drilled and will tweak them and polish them on a daily basis until you achieve the results you want. Then these techniques go on to your competition gameplan or your overall jiu-jitsu gameplan (if you don’t compete). The latter gameplan unlike the practice gameplan should be very solid with fewer holes as there is a try and error phase that filters out most of the kinks. You should not change your competition gameplan one month away from an important competition.

Gameplans form part of what we call “Periodization”. An introduction to Periodization can be found on and The practice gameplan should incorporate training objectives, a very important aspect of your training and topic we plan to write about in the near future in our Periodization series of articles.

In a nutshell there shouldn’t be a single practice you come in to the academy without a training objective, a technique, or goal that you wish to achieve or perfect in class.

Examples can be:

  • Play Sitting Guard: This will allow me to develop a better guard.
  • Play Turtle: It will make my back defense better.
  • Play inside the close guard of a very dangerous close guard player: This will make my guard openings and submissions defense much better.
  • Don’t get score upon. This will improve my ability to shot other people’s game down.

just to name a few…

Make sure that your training objectives include your practice gameplan. Make sure that you have a practice game plan written down and you meticulously revised it and adjusted depending on the feedback you get from your training objectives during your class time. For example, say you tried playing Dela Riva, and figure out that the position of the outside leg made a big difference, then this detail it must be added to your gameplan as follows.

If the opponent goes for _________ try De La Riva Sweep.
– make sure to have the leg at this angle to stop him from ________

A gameplan should be very specific and detailed. Only remove the specific details once they have become second nature and too obvious to even write them. I personally prefer to leave them as they serve as useful reminder of the importance of having fine, and detailed technique.

So how do you write a game plan? I get asked this question very often. Here is a quick template to give you an idea.

Game Plan Template



– establish grips and immediately pulls or jump guard. (Not Specific Enough.)


– look for arm drag single or immediately jump to guard—closed if possible. (Meant to get you started.)



Guard objectives:
– submit /take back/ sweep ( prioritize it)

Make sure to prioritize your objective. If your submissions are better than your sweeps, make sure to make submission from close guard a higher priority and attempt things that will enable you to attack with your strength not your weaknesses.

Gi Guard Series
– Write down the sequence of move you plan to attempt on your opponent (be specific) use arrows to help you visualize the flow. i.e.: – attempt bump sweep to threaten kimura- look for triangle when the guy defends.

No-gi Guard Series
Make sure to also use “if” to account for all the things your exponent my expose you to

“if opponent is _______”
I will do _____
“if opponent is _______”
I will do _____

A game plan is really like an algorithm or computer program ( a loop) in the back of your head that you have memorized, drilled, and internalized until it become second nature. Make sure you have both a gi and no-gi gameplan.


Half guard objectives:
– sweep/ submit/ take back/ escape to full guard (prioritize and number it so you know what’s your first option, second, etc…)

Half Guard Bottom Submission Series

Half Guard Bottom Sweep Series

Half Guard Bottom Takeback Series

Half Guard escape to full Guard Series.

The more positions you have thought through in your gamplan the less surprises. Once again be as specific as possible.



Back objectives:
– submit

Grips on the Back

Back Attack Series


Half Guard Top Objectives:
– submit/pass/smash opponent/takeback

Half Guard Fundamentals
If there are bad habits that you are trying to get rid of make sure to add them to your gameplan

-Remember to DO

Write them large so you remember. Little mistakes can always come back to bite you.

Half Guard Attack Series

Half Guard Passing Series


Objectives of Open Guard Top
– submit/pass/lock down half guard top

Inside the Open Guard (GI)

Inside the Open Guard (NO-GI)

Passing the Open Guard

Finer Details of the Over/Under Pass

One more time…be as detailed as possible. Look over your notes in class.

This template it is mean to get you started and it is incomplete in many ways. Imagine that your gameplan is a PHD thesis that you are planning to turn in, take your time to type it down and make it look professional but at the same time don’t delay it a single day after reading this if you haven’t done it so far. Make sure to have your instructor look it over and write down notes where he will like you to be more specific and give you suggestions if he feels that there are strengths or weaknesses you have overlooked.

Also make sure to film you matches! This is  what competition is all about; getting more feedback from other people you don’t train with everyday to help you get your BJJ better. If you don’t film your matches you are definitely wasting a lot of your time, investment, and commitment to compete. You don’t need fancy camera just one that allows you to see what you are doing right or wrong. Don’t rely on your instructor to film your matches as there might be multiple teammates competing, he may forget to bring it one day, etc…

Finally reads these quotes on planning:

“He who fails to plan, plans to fail”
– Proverb

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now”
-Alan Lakein

“A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow”

“Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.”
-Thomas Alva Edison

“To be prepared is half the victory.”
-Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

“Proper preparation prevents poor performance.”
-Charlie Batch

“When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary”

-Thomas Paine

“If you don’t have a plan for yourself, you’ll be part of someone else’s”
-American Proverb

6 Responses to “Developing a Gameplan: The Beginner Phase”

  1. ducky says:

    yo roberto, you told me to read this

    if i sent you a copy of my gameplan would you take a look at it and help me out?

    what i have so far is all the moves i like to do, broken up into categories like standing, guard, open guard, etc.

    i need to put them together into a flow that makes sense

    i think its important to have a go-to that you know you can count on, like i noticed you play butterfly alot

  2. Copy and Paste it here and I will definitely help you out.

  3. In this Gameplan Template I used fonts and color to create the outline (a hierarchy). I have noticed that some of the students have not caught on this detail and when they write it in their notebooks it becomes very difficult to read.

    A Gameplan should be easily to read and find the information at a glance by you and your coach. Use a similar outline:



    along with everything discussed above.

  4. Make sure to also use tabs or spaces. Check out:

    Is a good article on developing a good outline.

  5. Jewjitsu says:

    Thanx for posting this i will attempt to use it.


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