Training Partners Part 1 I said I would share some examples of how I plan my rolling strategy. There is no one size fits all plan. It depends on what I want/need to work on in any given week (so of course your plan may look completely different). Here are some examples:
Heavier/Stronger Training Partners
When I'm rolling someone 10-30lbs heavier I might try and match their technique and power. I can try to challenge their weight/strength advantage by going head to head against their strength with my grips, frames, and pressure. I might play a guard that invites them to crush me, hopefully improving that guard and my survival and comfort under that extra weight. Alternatively, I might specifically work a strategy that tries to neutralize their size/strength advantage as much as possible - even if it takes me away from my preferred game and technique set (which is where we have a tendency to go against someone who is bigger - it's a natural reaction/survival instinct).
If someone has 40lbs or more on me, I might work on a game that keeps me outside and on top so that they never get a chance to use that weight directly or I might decide to play inside and fast to work on speed and scrambling against their strength and weight. For example, I might play an open guard where I've got a foot on their hip keeping their weight off looking for an opportunity to arm drag or scramble to the back rather than chasing a sweep.
Lighter/Smaller Training Partners
With smaller guys I want to try and match their technique and speed. Can I out-scramble them, can I move as fast or faster, can I feel when they want to move and work on my timing, can I beat them to the shot or getting grips? Alternatively, I might concentrate on what I can do to slow the game down. Can I neutralize their speed using grips and position without having to use my size/strength advantage?
Equal Size Training Partners
If I am rolling with someone my size but at a lesser skill level, I like to work on new techniques until I have it down and learn to "trust" the technique (once I think I have it down I want a variety of body types short/tall,
thick/thin, strong/fast to really get the feel of the technique). At my level and above, I often swap between running my "A Game" and experimenting with new techniques (tournament time is almost all "A Game"). Sometimes I choose not to go for subs and just see how well I can change between positions and advance positions. Other times I might hunt for only one particular submission ("It's kimura night - GET EXCITED") or combination working on how effectively I set it up and lock it in.
Sometimes I "just roll" and there is nothing wrong with that. BUT if I want to take charge of my training I want to spend some mental energy on rolling with a plan. Remember, gym taps don't count. These are learning/training opportunities to be exploited for that purpose, not fights to the death. Experiment, tap, try again.
On the flip side, remember your training partners need to work on their plan(s) too. Be an asset to your school. Roll with everybody. Help the new guys. Be cannon fodder for the really good guys. Have fun.