I’ll add my two cents if you don’t mind. First off, I have no idea what your current level is, so excuse me if some of this seems basic.
Like some on here have said, if conditioning is your goal, try to go longer, or more intensely, for a set period.
Another thing for goal setting you might try is to pick one move or one position, and train it for an entire session or week. I.e., you need to improve, or better understand, the standard arm bar.
So, for every match that week, you do not submit anyone using anything except the armbar. Make it your sole survival and you will get to know it inside and out. The dynamics of it will be different, do it slowly and you can learn to feel it even more than you do now, you’ll possibly learn new positions/ways to apply it, and who knows what else.
I find this to be a great way to re-familiarize myself with old techniques and master new ones. It also helps with understanding them at a higher level.
If you want to improve upon escapes, solely play defense, and never submit someone. Just keep playing defense, and if you wind up in a dominant position, fall out of it and let them regain the upper hand.
Not too long ago, I found I was weaker up top than on my back, so I always sought to achieve the mount, no matter what. I did not allow myself to be on my back, unless I was forced there. I wouldn’t submit anyone from my guard , either- it wasn’t about winning, it was about learning.
A month later, only two guys could keep me from being on top and they had a lot more experience than me.
Maybe you cold work on solely controlling someone. Don’t submit them, and never get defensive. Just get the dominant position and let them keep working to get ot of it, but don’t let them succeed. No submissions, just control.
Another thing you might try is learning the “feel”. No kidding, try rolling with a blindfold or something. It becomes a completely different game when you can’t see, and it takes you to another level. Seriously. I grew leaps and bounds with this.
You might also set the goal of beating someone in “x” amount of time. Once that time has passed, you restart. Try winning in 60secs or less. Maybe 3mins for a higher level opponent.
I don’t know if any of that helps. But just some thoughts.
As usual, you offer the best advice around.
I do what you suggest: Before each class I work on one aspect of the game. Some classes I do nothing but try avoiding submissions. Other times I work on only landing one submission. My guard passes are pitiful, so lately I’ve been focusing on nothing other than passing guard. If I get submitted more because I’m one-dimensional during the session, so what?
Too many guys treat every sparring match as if it’s a tournament. Each class is just that - a class. It should be a time to learn and improve, not tap as many people out as possible.