How to Protect Your Balls on the Mats (Don’t Get Them Crushed!)

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If you (a) practice martial arts, (b) have balls, and (c) are not Rodtang “Balls of Steel” Jitmuangnon, you’re in the right place. Few men enjoy their nuts being crushed, and those who don’t tend to wear a gi for that sort of activity. Kidding aside, you’ve probably got your family jewels in less-than-desirable situations (so to speak) more than once during BJJ practice. Let us teach you a bit about how to protect your balls.

In this article, we’ll help you lower the chances of your precious gems getting in precarious situations in the future. (You can thank us later.)

Generally speaking, there are two positions in which you are most likely to get your baby makers in trouble. The first one is open guard with your back fully on the ground. The other is when applying an arm bar.

Let’s deal with these separately before sharing our thoughts on wearing a groin guard.

  • 1 Avoid less experienced guard passers

    Knee on balls #1

    Training with low-level partners can be the most significant cause of getting your eggs scrambled. At TFC, we do our best to pair you up with someone on your own level, but you should still take precautions.

    The lack of coordination can play a significant role, but it can also be inexperience with a specific technique. This becomes even more troublesome when your partner tries to impress and, while trying to compete with a higher belt or ranked sparring partner, gets sloppy.

  • 2 Eliminate vulnerable positions

    Knee on balls #2

    Another important thing on how to protect your balls is to never lay flat on your back legs open, waiting for your opponent to enter your guard. It’s leaving a giant bullseye on your privates. And somehow, (!!) beginners are very adept at hitting that target.

    A seated butterfly position is a much better alternative that will allow you to perform the same functionality while keeping yourself protected. You can quickly transition to an on-your-side style half-guard to ensure safety and an advantageous position.

    If you’re adamant about staying on your back with an open guard, don’t do so passively. Frame and redirect the knee as it’s coming in.

  • 3 Fix your technique

    Applying an armbar #1

    This is probably one of the most common submissions where you’re likely to get your balls trapped if you haven’t quite mastered the technique just yet. Have no fear! Captain Save Your Balls is here! You don’t need to risk your reproductive organs to get a sub; you just need a technique adjustment.

  • 4 S mount armbar

    Applying an armbar #2

    This armbar variation ensures that your hip avoids separation from your opponent’s shoulder when properly executed. It’s in the space between the shoulder and hip that it becomes possible for trapping to take place. Also, remember the golden rule of armbar submissions. Squeeze those knees!

  • 5 Check your armbar angles

    Although you may be getting your opponent’s arm in the correct position (thumb pointing up), lifting your hips and being positioned where there is no gap, you might still get your nuts crushed.

    A simple way to avoid this is to have your opponent’s elbow in line with either of your hips rather than pulling straight down the middle of your body.

    This will allow for the same result for your opponent and a less… uncomfortable position for yourself.

  • 6 An option to consider

    Wearing a cup #1

    There is no question that for some the simple answer to this problem is to wear a cup. However, they aren’t the perfect solution to the problem, let’s explore why that is the case.

  • 7 Not as safe as you expect

    Wearing a cup #2

    While your cup will likely keep you safe, it may be pretty uncomfortable for your training partners. We can’t remember the last time anyone said, “Oh, I loved that time when I rolled with Alex, and I could feel his cup grinding into my spine”.

    Not only can it be uncomfortable, but when performing a submission such as an arm bar, it can even prove to be quite dangerous due to force being leveraged by the solid steel cup.

  • 8 Some gyms may not allow it

    Wearing a cup #3

    It really depends on the gym you go to. Some swear by cups and won’t let you roll without one, while others simply won’t let you roll with one. Your best bet is to ask whoever is in charge of your BJJ sessions what is and isn’t allowed in that particular gym. At TFC, the mouth guard is essential when rolling, but the groin guard is optional.

  • 9 Spider vs steel

    Wearing a cup #4

    Suppose you’re set on wearing a cup but want to minimize the discomfort and danger associated with steel cups. In that case, we’d definitely recommend trying out a spider cup. Not only will it keep you protected, but it also allows for far better lateral movement than your standard steel cup. It is often completely forgotten while rolling due to its comfort.

  • 10 Conclusion

    Keeping your lucky charms safe is tricky on the mats, no matter how experienced you get. But remember, BJJ is a game of decisions and positions. Make the right decisions, select the correct positions, and, if necessary, wear the proper protection. You’ll be able to leave the mat with a smile rather than a grimace on your face.

  • 11 Bonus

    If we’re talking about balls in martial arts, we can’t not feature this beast. Check out this absolute unit brushing off a groin shot like nothing:

    If you asked this guy for tips on how to protect your balls, he’d probably tell you to do hardening exercises or something. They really should’ve checked if Lasiri’s leg was fine after hitting those steel balls.