How to Coach Yourself

BJJFlowCharts-How to Coach Yourself

Imagine having John Danaher watching you train day in and day out, analyzing your game, and telling you what to do to improve. You will agree with me that your game would improve at a much higher rate than it is today.

Unfortunately, most of us will never have the luxury to have a high-level coach helping us all day. But what if I told you there is a way to get top coaching, without spending a dime. What if I told you YOU could coach yourself, with high efficiency, by following a framework I'm going to show you. Of course, it will require some time to become proficient, it's not a magic formula, but it works, and you'll be surprised by the results!

Let's get started, shall we?


Before going into the framework to analyze your game, you need to make sure your week is well structured and balanced. Take a piece of paper and write down your training schedule. Specify the type of training for each session.

To give an example, here is mine. I'm not claiming nor thinking it is what a training schedule should look like. It's merely what I manage to do.

BJJFlowCharts-How to Coach Yourself

As you can see, most of my training is devoted to skills improvement (FlowChart Training with Specific Sparrings - Make sure to read my article about Training Smart to learn more about this).

Once you've written your training schedule, ask yourself this question:
Am I spending the majority of my time working on developing new skills?

The pitfall you want to avoid is doing mainly hard sparring.

Here is why: when you do hard sparring, you don't work on your weaknesses. You play your A-game, and you do everything you can to win. Polishing your A-game is essential, but it should not be the majority of your training. No one's game is perfect, and everyone needs to improve continuously. Even the best players in the world work on their weaknesses, and they do it a lot! Maybe that's why they are the best!

At this point, you might want to reorganize your training schedule.
Once it's done, stick to it!


Now the fun part, how to do the analysis!

First, you need some video footage. Twice a month, record yourself doing five specific training of five minutes.
1: Mount / 2: Turtle / 3: Closed Guard / 4: Open Guard / 5: Standing

Switch roles at 2min30 (except for the last one obviously).

Looking for conceptual mistakes

"A concept is worth a thousand techniques!"

Conceptual mistakes are the first thing you want to focus on. Improving technical details won't do you any good if you're running in the wrong direction. Here is a list of the key concepts I'm using when I analyze tapes or when I coach teammates. Look for the concepts you're not obeying.

Mount - Bottom

  • Keep your elbows tucked in; defend head and arms at all times
  • Always make sure his hands are on the floor, with weight on them (so he can't attack)
  • Are you trying to move his body weight to the side (rising shrimp)

Mount - Top

  • Can you keep control?
  • Lower body and upper body should work independently (while you attack with the upper body, your lower body always works to counter his moves)
  • Use multiple threats to get a breakthrough (head and arms)

Turtle - Bottom

  • Stay compact, elbows and knees connected
  • Protect your neck at all time
  • Create movements to defend the hooks

Turtle - Top

  • If you can't get the seatbelt, use Kuzushi to create space
  • Always keep your solar plexus connected to his back
  • Get the hooks
  • Grip sequences to trap an arm once you get the Rear Mount

Closed Guard - Bottom

  • Use grips sequences and knee pulls to get to Side Scissor, Top Lock, Clamp

Closed Guard - Top

  • Strong posture
  • Stand up to open his guard
  • Excellent balance when you're on your feet

Open Guard - Bottom

  • Keep inside positions
  • Look for Kuzushi
  • Don't overextend your limbs

Open Guard - Top

  • Play a mix of Pressure Passing, Loose Passing, Submission Threats
  • Visualize having a wall behind you at all time so you can't get pushed away
  • Look for shoulder line control and back exposure


  • Respect the four defensive layers (watch this excellent video from Folkjitsu)
  • Create angles and chain wrestling

When you look at the tapes, look for those mistakes first. If you spot one, make a note of it and bring it in front of your attention during the next sessions.

Again, you want to make a priority of fixing those conceptual mistakes!
Fixing technical details come next!

Identify the weak links in your techniques

When watching the tapes, ask yourself those questions:

  • Did I concede a takedown?
  • Did my guard get passed?
  • Did I get pinned on the mat without managing to escape?
  • Did I get submitted?
  • Did I get swept?
  • Did I struggle to pass?
  • Did I lose a position?
  • Did I fail to submit once in a good position?

I know what you're thinking, it's a lot of questions! That's why we're going to choose only three! Take the three responses you feel you should focus on or the ones that annoy you the most.

Let's assume you got pinned in side control, and you couldn't escape. You know you were trying to move his head to the other side, but without success, and you had no answer for it. Open the Escapes FlowChart and review the techniques

BJJFlowCharts-Pin Escapes & Turtle Escapes-Go Further Faster by John Danaher

Here you go, that's the first response! Follow the same logic for the other two.

You now have a clear sense of what you should fix in the coming days. Ideally, you want to do that at least twice a month, but I know it's challenging to maintain that dedication because of life. Don't be too hard on yourself and do it when it's possible. The results will come, and it will be extremely gratifying because you'll have done it by yourself!


We've seen how to use a framework to identify the conceptual mistakes you're making and the weak links in your techniques. Remember always to fix the conceptual mistakes first as it's the foundations of the game. Use FlowCharts to reviews technical details once you identified the weak spots. As usual, a structural approach and dedication will be crucial in your success!


If you have any questions, requests, suggestions, or if you just wanna chat, send me an email or a message on Instagram @maxigarami, and I'll be more than happy to talk with you and to hear your feedback.