It’s easy to tell when my training partner is nervous/scared when we are rolling.
It’s often the case that they are somewhere between a white belt and a purple belt, though usually, it’s more on the white belt side than the purple belt side.
I roll slowly in most cases and control my movements as much as possible, especially when I’m rolling with someone without much experience in BJJ.
When I catch them with a submission, again, the same thing: I stop right before slowly adding extra pressure that would get me a tap so my opponent will have enough time to realize it’s checkmate and to tap.
I’m inclined to believe that I’m one of the safest training partners to work with, but still… I suppose some people don’t get that I have no intention of hurting them.
Trust me! I’m not like a serial killer, sicario, or anything like that.
I’m guessing (and hoping) that most senior belts are like me… and that they have no intention of “beating up” beginners.
If you tend to be nervous when you roll with others, please don’t be nervous or afraid! I know it’s easier said than done. But the thing is, your nervousness/fear doesn’t help you.
What you could do is to observe your training partners and figure out who is safe and who is not safe (i.e., those who tend to use excessive force, move quickly/suddenly without much control, and/or aren’t paying attention to their surroundings).
With the safe ones, try matching your pace with their pace. I assume they are often more relaxed and have good control over what they are doing.
With the not-so-safe ones, if you have to roll with them, try a defensive game and make sure to stay safe… without being rigid. If you know what to do defensively, you will be less nervous. And if you don’t know what to do defensively, it’s time to start learning more defenses.
Whatever you do, keep in mind that panicking won’t help you get out of bad situations. If you could solve your problems by freaking out over them, that would be nice, but things don’t work that way. You might do better just by understanding this idea after all.
Take control of yourself.