Sparring with a purpose
The vast majority of jiu jitsu athletes enter every sparring session with a “let’s see what happens” attitude. Let me tell you something - whenever you enter sparring with a “let’s see what happens” attitude, YOU WILL SIMPLY END UP DOING THE SAME THINGS YOU DID IN ALL YOUR PREVIOUS SPARRING SESSIONS. Left to their own devices, ATHLETES WILL ALWAYS GO BACK TO THEIR HABITS. The idea of progressive training is to create NEW habits, not simply repeat old ones. Change within yourself has to be FORCED, it won’t happen by itself. The best way to make this happen is to have a clear goal(s) when you spar. Usually the goals are very modest - a new grip, a new set up for a favorite move, perhaps a new move you think has potential. Only by bringing in new material and improving old material will you make progress. This is best done by having a notion of what you want to accomplish before you slap hands and commence sparring. Of course there are days where you just want to spar with an open and relaxed mind and have fun seeing what happens - that’s fine and healthy. However, make sure a healthy percentage of your sparring sessions involve clear prior goals to prevent them degenerating into “more of the same” sessions where you walk out the same the same as you walked in the door.