Starting jiu-jitsu training is a tough experience. It doesn’t matter if you’re a child or a middle-aged adult, the experience is both confusing and exciting at the same time. The first hurdle you go through is usually dealing with the fact that you’re going to be in such close contact with another person. And since you’re a beginner, every rolling partner is a stranger. You don’t know if they are going to be nice and technical with you, or if they are going to be a jerk that’s going to make your life miserable for the next few months - it’s really going to test you. If the jerk gives you a hard time, what will you do? Will you quit? Or will you drive through and improve? In doing the latter, you will not only gain the respect of your new teammates, but you will also be able to fight back and no longer feel the pain or shame of being tapped so often. That leads to the first point - you should focus on learning to defend yourself while becoming conditioned to handle the smothering and heavy pressure of the more experienced practitioners with whom you roll.
There are many basics someone needs to learn when starting jiu-jitsu. Many of these basics may not be actually mastered until you’re a black belt. The goal is not to be an expert at this stage, but to just be able to use it on people around your own level. These are just a few tips that many beginners overlook because they are generally too busy trying to be on the offense, but as a white belt, you have to practice basic defense and avoidance first.
So what positions or actions should a white belt work on avoiding? The priorities would be getting swept and being pulled into closed guard, which means they should practice maintaining good posture. Fresh, raw beginners should try to stay on top as often as possible, because guard usage is something that may take a lot longer to develop than playing on top. So in the meantime, the top game is something that would come more naturally and will help many beginners hang in there with the others until their guard game improves. That’s why learning to keep your base low and wide is one of the most important rules to keep in mind when you begin training. This will minimize the amount of times you can be swept and the amount of time you needlessly spend being forced to play guard. Once you begin developing proper guard technique, then you can begin to apply those skills as well.
Another basic trick avoids being sucked into closed guard. Very often, beginners stay on their knees rather than standing up to pass open guard. One very easy thing to do is to keep one knee up. Everyone, not just beginners, should make it an instinct to use their raised knee as a type of shield from not only blocking the closed guard, but also starting a proper pass, like a knee-slice. Obviously it’s important to learn how to open the closed guard as well, but avoiding such a difficult position (until proper escapes are learned) should be a priority for raw beginners.