9 Common Mistakes White Belts Make In BJJ

There are many mistakes new white belts make when they start their Jiu-Jitsu journey. From awkward submission attempts to lying flat on their back not knowing what a guard is. That being said, this list isn’t about the skill level of a new white belt it’s about bad habits that you may not realize you’re doing!

Here is a list of 9 common mistakes new white belts make in Jiu-Jitsu:

  • Overtraining
  • Too aggressive while rolling
  • Spazzing around while rolling
  • Not trying what you just learned in class
  • Reverting to the same techniques during rolls
  • Using strength over technique
  • Not being patient
  • Not able to relax, be calm, and breath
  • Not tapping soon enough


When you start training Jiu-Jitsu you may find yourself enjoying it so much that you start going to every class available – I know I did. And before you know it, you may start to feel as though your tendons or muscles are not recovering and maybe even a lack of motivation to go train!

The most common causes of overtraining are quick increases in frequency, intensity, and duration of training sessions. The symptoms of overtraining are amplified if your diet isn’t in check and if you’re not taking the necessary steps to recover properly.

Training To Frequently

If you are enjoying Jiu-Jitsu a lot you may find yourself increasing the number of classes per week too quickly for your body to handle. Even if you are an active person you are still subjecting your body to a new, intense, body exercise.

Try to pace yourself. If BJJ is something you truly enjoy then it won’t be going anywhere and the last thing you want to do is make your body unable to train for weeks at a time. It’s easy to burn yourself out from anything when overdoing it.

Overtraining occurs when a person exceeds their body’s ability to recover from strenuous exercise.

– Brad Walker

Being Too Aggressive While Rolling

It’s easy to fall into this style of rolling in your first few weeks at Jiu-Jitsu. You don’t want to “lose”, you want to prove you are the best white-belt, or maybe, you don’t realize you’re going too hard.

Aggressive rolling in Jiu-Jitsu is like blasting off the starting line for a 100m sprint. You charge right into your training partner, if you land in their guard – it doesn’t matter you’re going to push as hard as possible to get out of it. You gain side control and start trying to grab limps to crank on a submission.

During all of this, you may find yourself staying very rigid or maybe even losing your breath and getting swept by your partner shortly after.

Finally, don’t consider tapping or being in bad positions losing while rolling. It’s the wrong mindset to have when you’re rolling in class practicing your techniques against teammates.

Being Too Spazzy While Rolling

A common trait of a new white-belt is being too spazzy while rolling. Whether they’re on top or in the bottom they always seem to be bouncing around, grabbing at everything that can see, or generally just moving without any real intent.

First, you’re wasting a lot of energy flailing around. Not only is bouncing tiring, bouncing around trying to push your way out of positions will set you off balance allowing your partner to sweep you easily.

Try to move with intent and use techniques to get out of positions or advance to the next one. If you’re not sure what your suppose to do in a situation, instead of flailing around, just ask your partner!

Using The Same Techniques Every Rolling Session

Rolling with others is a lot of fun. It’s even more fun when you’re able to control or tap someone every match. It can be very easy to slip into the habit of doing the same techniques every class which can prevent you from progressing!

Now don’t get me wrong, practicing and sharpening a technique is very beneficial and I encourage it! But, know when you’re abusing it. If your go-to technique is acquiring side-control and then slipping into a North-South choke – every rolling session – you’re missing out on a lot of other techniques and positions (Yes, this is exactly what I used to always do)!

Not Trying What You Just Learned In Your BJJ Class

One common mistake new white-belts do after they know a few techniques is to not try the techniques they were just taught in class. It’s easy to fall into this trap because you may be finding success in the techniques you already know.

It’s great to refine and explore the techniques you are having success with, but don’t forget to try out the technique you were just taught! You may not find success with it at first; however, using it a few times during rolling will help you remember it and see where you may be able to fit it into your style!

Using Strength and Size Over Technique

It’s easy to start to rely on using strength or size in Jiu-Jitsu to get advantageous positions over others in the class. One reason to avoid doing this is it allows you to do the technique a bit wrong, but still, make it work.

In a competition, use every advantage you have. In training, try to focus on getting the technique right without forcing it to be right with strength and size – that can go with submission, sweeps, or escapes!

One major downfall of relying on strength during training is gassing out too quickly and then not being able to do anything! Your strength will only take you so far. And size is not an excuse to not learn passes or escapes properly.

Not Being Patient

Patients go a long way in BJJ, whether it is securing a submission, preparing an escape, or advancing a position.

Securing a submission sometimes would only take 1 more second of holding.

Escaping a bad situation could be as easy as waiting 4 more seconds for your partner to adjust themselves. As soon as you feel that adjustment you could use their momentum against them.

Advancing to a better position may just take a few more seconds to burn your opponent out from attempting an escape and then not having the energy to stop you from advancing.

Stay Calm, Relax, And Breathe

In Jiu-Jitsu staying calm, relaxing, and remembering to breathe is one of the best tips I’ve read.

Remain Calm

Staying calm will help your performance when you’re put into rough positions, such as a nasty side control or mount. Calmness will allow you to stay focused and strategize your next move while under pressure. If you’re not staying calm you’ll find yourself starting to use a more spazzy style and less efficient techniques. Staying calm gives you the ability to attack at the right time.

Staying Relaxed

Relaxing in Jiu-Jitsu not only lets you roll longer and more effectively, but it’ll also help you feel what the opponent is going to do. Now, staying relaxed doesn’t mean a loose frame and noodle legs, you’ll still have to brace yourself.

Relaxation helped improve my technique because it allowed me to think about what to do next. I found staying relaxed helped me feel the momentum of my opponent and what their intent was. Once I felt their intent and where they were putting pressure I could use this it against them.

Remembering To Breathe

Breathing, the most important thing you can do and it sounds easy since we have been doing ti all our life. But, ever catch yourself in a bad position thinking about what to do, attempting to execute it, and then suddenly you cannot catch your breath? Chances are, you were holding your breath for that entire thought process.

Remembering to breathe and learning to control your breathing will be game-changing. The most game-changing aspect I noticed was that I had the energy to exert myself when it counted and not become gassed or out of breathing afterward – which used to put me back into a bad position from not being able to defend their counter-attack.

Knowing When To Tap

There are times when a submission is locked in and maybe you want to prove you’re the toughest person in the gym or that you can take a submission better than others. Maybe you think there is a chance the opponent will gas out. Knowing when to tap is key to longevity in Jiu-Jitsu.

Always remember that you’re training when you’re rolling – it’s not a competition or Jiu-Jitsu Worlds to determine the best. Save your limbs and ligaments to roll another day.

Learn what your limits are and tap before you get near them. For example, getting Kimura’d and waiting for the last possible moment to tap is going to destroy your shoulders quicker than you think.


Here is a quick summary of the 9 common mistakes that white belts make in Jiu-Jitsu.

Overtraining: Attending too many classes to quickly than your body can handle and not allowing your body time to recover and adapt to the new stress you are putting it through.

Being Too Aggressive: Not only is there no need to be aggressive in class., but it will also cause you to be rigid, get tired quicker, and cause you to use less technique. Plus, there is the potential you could injure one of your training partners. Just slow down and know it is not a competition.

Spazzy Around: Bouncing, flailing, and throwing yourself around will set you off balance making it easier for you to get swept. Slow down and think about your movements. You don’t have to be constantly moving to be effective.

Not Using The Technique You Just Learned: Each class teaches you a new technique it’s always a great idea to practice it in that class rolling session. It’ll help solidify it in your memory and give you an idea of using it live.

Using The Same Techniques Every Class: When you find a technique that works it can be very tempting to use it every class. When you’re just starting out try to branch out after you’ve refined your favorite technique. You’ll progress a lot quicker and learn much more doing so!

Using Strength Over Technique: You may find success with this at first, but you’ll be quickly left behind when other students start learning more techniques than you. Additionally, your strength is not going to last forever, your technique will.

Not Being Patient: When learning or attempting techniques be patient! You may not learn a technique on the first day, so be patient with yourself when learning different techniques. Also, when utilizing a technique in live rollings, like an escape or submission, be patient with it. There is a lot more resistance than there was in practice.

Relax, Stay Calm, and Breathe: Stay relaxed so your body can flow, remain calm to gather your wits and think clearly on what you need to accomplish and remember to breathe. Remembering these 3 tips is game-changing.

Not Tapping: It’s okay to tap. Not tapping or trying to hold out against a submission can seriously injure you. Save your body to roll another day, you’re not going to impress anyone for letting your shoulder get cranked!