How to get better at sweeps?

What are some things that one can do, for example, drills, to get better at sweeps?

I really do not know too many drills for getting better at sweeps nor any other specific training strategies or tactics, so any suggestions would be most appreciated.

Practice . . .

Seriously though, I would find that one sweep you like and just use that in practice,  drill it over and over and make it your preferred option when rolling.  If you have 10 sweeps in your head, you aren't going to get a chance to get good at them that fast.  If you have 1, 2 or 3 of them, you will get them in training more likely, but you've got to drill.

I like using the basic hook sweep as a starting point since it opens up a TON of half guard sweeps.

Another thing, it wouldn't be a bad idea to spar with some guys who aren't too heavy at first so you can get them while using technique and getting all the details down.  If you grab that 275 pound guy in class you are going to be more likely to jerk and muscle something so keep the technique clean and soon enough, you'll be getting even the biggest guys over.

Lastly, watch tournament tape and look at some of the most common sweeps that are hit in real matches.  Hope this helps.

GW is right on. When you roll for the next couple months, start by pulling guard and working for a sweep. Start with the newbies and work your way up to bigger and more technical partners. If you pull it off, let them roll you back to guard and sweep them again. If they pass you guard, escape back to guard and fight for the sweep again.

If you want to be a sweeping machine, start rolling like one now. Your sweeps will improve out of necessity!

Good luck!


Sweeps were one of the first things that really made a difference in my game. I found that if you work 3 different options from the same sweep setup that it really helps to be able to complete a sweep.  For example, the first sweep setup I really started to hit was an elevator sweep.  However I didn't really start hitting it until I had 3 different scenarios.  1 was the first basic move, the second was when the guy sprawled out on my first move and the 3rd is when the guy would try to back out.  Once I got good at these 3 moves I could sweep the guy no matter what his reaction was to this initial setup.  Then I could flow back and forth in combination if the first attempt failed. 

Keep doing them. Start using them on lower level people and work your way up as you get better at them.

Also, it depends on how well you're instructor is teaching you the details of the move.  I had been training for 5 years already when I feel like a finally "TRULY" learned how to use the hook sweep.  After this I was able to occasionally sweep a few black belts with it.

Of course, once one top, they'd eventually get guard and choke me, but hey, one step at a time! haha


Sweeping is all about momentum. If you have the sensitivity, you can just feel which way he's leaning and sweep him that way.

To cheat, if you want to sweep him to your right, you need to get him to lean to your right. You can do that by pushing him to your left, and he pushes back. Or you can simply move your whole body to the right, and he will have to move his body to your right to stay square with you. If he doesn't move, he will be giving up an angle and he doesn't want that.

There is also another way to get better at sweeps:


Practice the move over and over again. Repetition is one of the biggest things that can help your game, but it is neglected by most people.

One thing that we do regularly at our club is pure Sweep vs. Pass play with all subs excluded.

Personally, what I found works is start in guard, do not close your guard and do not go for submissions from there.

As Yao said, it's all about feeling where they are at. I found working throws helps me tons with my sweeps.

RodneyPoldrack - Would you mind ellaborating on that sweep proggression? I'd like to hear what techiques you used.

The butterfly guard is perhaps the best guard for sweeps. The half guard can be good, too. Both of these guards are probably more high percentage for sweeps than the closed guard or the feet-on-hips guard.

RodneyPoldrack - Would you mind ellaborating on that sweep proggression?

We call it the "Perosh Game".  Carlos named it after Anthony Perosh who used it all the time when he lived in Dallas. 

The first attack is the standard hook flip.  From a sitting position, you have your left arm underhook and left shin hook deep under his hip.  Control his right arm and lean to the side while lifting the hook and sweeping him to your right. 


The second attack is if the guy sprawls on you when you are setting up the hook flip (You can actually start off with this move but this is how it is taught in the progression).  If he sprawls you arm drag his right arm and grab over his shoulder with your left arm.  Then scoop your right arm under his right arm, bump your hips under him and sweep him over you to your left.


If he backs up and stands on you it pretty much the same as option 2 but you have to stop his moment from circling around you. To do that you really have to get a good head control and usually a foot in the hip for a minute.  You the want to force his right arm in to his body, then sit up and grab over his shoulder.  You finish the position the same as the second attack.   


This may be a little hard to visualize without seeing it.  Having multiple options of attack from the same setup has really helped me out a lot. 


reps, reps and more reps (and of course playing)

RodneyPoldrack - I think I know what your talking about but I'm not sure. Is it the sweep where you get your hip and knee under him and then and then open your hip up rolling to the left while pulling his shoulder or lat? How exactly do you perform the arm drag when he sprawls? Thanks.

I think it is more than just reps.

That is only part of it. I think in regards to sweeps, both from the ground as well as stand up, is timing. You have to make the opponent move and break his balance then apply the sweep the moment his balance is broken.

Believe it or not when a person is in motion his balance is broken. It is only when they settle into their base is their balance unbroken.

The key with sweeps is to catch the opponent at the start of his weight shift (which is what one is doing when they are in motion: shifting their weight) or just before they complete their weight shift. In other words, catch the opponent the moment he starts to move OR just before they complete their movement.

You can do one of two things you can:

-Block the momentum (movement) of one part of their body while continuing the momentum of another part. Think of tripping over a curb. The momentum of the lower part of your body is blocked while the momentum of the upper part of your body is continuing. There is nothing to "catch" your balance thus you fall.

  • Continue the momentum of one part (or all parts) beyond the point where base and balance can be established or reestablished. Think of slipping on a banana or ice. Your momentum is carried well or extended beyond the point of stablization and balance.

When you execute sweeps think of these two things AND create a condition where sweeps can occur; meaning pull or push, get him to move and committ and then either block the momentum of one part while continuing the momentum of another or continue the momentum beyond the point of base.

Also when you do reversals, which in my view are different in regards to principle then sweeps, think of taking away the point or points that keep the opponent in base and roll or move them in that direction. In order to make a table collapse you take away one of its legs. After you take it away it automatically falls in the direction of that removal.

I personally feel that if you really want to do sweeps consistently you have to keep what I previously stated in mind. Sweeps just don't work by themselves, there is a principle and a condition that "causes" or "makes" them work. And without that principle present and in action then a sweep simply won't work no matter how many times you do it or how well your tecnhique and form are.

RodneyPoldrack's a little! Control his LEFT arm with your right arm...underhook his LEFT arm with your right arm.

hmmm...some interesting ideas here...thanks everybody

assuming you are a beginner "fightstudent" (arent we all beginners?)

try to learn only a few high probability sweeps (3-4) at a time. try to make them all from one position you find yourself in a lot (there are so many ways to play bjj nowadays)

for example: from closed guard, opponent down inside your closed guard - scissor sweep, elevator sweep, pendulum sweep. these are common sweeps and common names your instructor should be able to teach you these basic sweeps and some key variations in great detail. (if not, find someone that can)

first learn all the sweeps "by the numbers" or step by step. practice each 5-10 times or more if necessary sweeping to your strong side with a nonresisting cooperative training partner a little lighter than you. switch positions. learn the proper sequence and feel the technique.

sounds strange but try practicing reps with your eyes closed. this will help you feel the technique and timing.

second learn some realistic timing. have your instructor demonstrate variations of these basic sweeps and why you would choose to use these variations. there are ALWAYS variations and different possibilities. your instructor should know your game/level and what works best for your style and body type.

variations are any possibilities suited best for different situations, opponents body types, weight distribution, tendencies, styles, ect.

your instructor should have enough experience to be able to tell you what really works, when and why not just teach you techniques

lastly practice in live training against weaker players until you are successful with these sweeps with some regularity then move on to heavier/better opponents. here you will gain confidence with your sweeps and see the effectiveness of your practice and training.

eventually you will move into all the different sweeping positions and learn a few highly effective sweeps from each position, you will be able to sweep everyone you face and your teammates will begin to call you "sweepzilla"

just keep learning, practicing and training. good luck

i use these guidelines: (they seem to work ok for my students)

stay safe. be safe.

have fun.

take it slow. no overnight ninjas in bjj.

learn everything step by step.

pay close attention to detail.

only perfect practice makes perfect.

be a good training partner. learn. teach. learn.

be technical.

good luck