Saturday, November 20, 2010

Coaching Questions and Answers: Part 1

Guest Post from Jim Pedro, Sr.

1. What is the BEST Trait you can have to be a Great Coach?
I would have to say, ‘caring’. You have to care about your players. If you really care, you will always be trying to learn better ways to help them, all of them.

As a Coach/Instructor at YMCA what do I do when the YMCA is against competition and most of the Coaching Program is about competition?
I cannot imagine there is a coach out there who does not want his or her players to get better. Whether you call yourself coach, sensei or instructor, it doesn't matter. We all have this element in common; we all want our players to improve. How can you tell if your student really knows how to do o soto gari or ippon seio nage or the mat move you just taught this week? Do you have them do shadow uchi komi with no partner? Do you have them fit half-way into the throw and then have the other person jump for them?  I don't think so. Even when I did kata, I didn't expect the other person to jump for me. Having your students able to do the technique against a resisting partner demonstrates that  they have really learned.

This doesn’t mean they need to enter the senior nationals. You can have them compete within their own club. Then critique their fighting on what they are doing wrong. This way you can couch it as a learning experience and if you are questioned by the YMCA you can honestly point out that  this is one of the ways your students learn.

The point of competition is NOT to beat your opponent into the ground. In fact, when we had a camp after the junior nationals, I had a long talk with some of the young players about that. Within your own club or in inter-club workouts or camps, you are supposed to be learning. That's what it's all about.

I am in a community program where they have a lot of rules about what we can and cannot do to discipline students. How should I handle a kid that acts up when my hands are pretty much tied by the center?
You can make him sit out and learn while watching. Tell the student, “Sit over there and when you think you can behave in class, let me know.” Punishing kids by making them sit out of judo is sort of a quiet psychological way of convincing the kid this is a good thing because he is being punished by not being allowed to do it. At the same time, it removes the disruptive influence from your class by having him sit out.

There are a few kids in my class who would be great judo players but their parents are unwilling to support them. Either the parents don’t want to bring them to extra practices, they think I am working them too hard or the student is in eleven different activities and cannot make the commitment to judo.
Those are three different cases. In every case, talk to the parents.  For those parents who think you are working too hard, explain to them that you will take care of the child. Invite them to do judo if they want to put a gi on and get an idea of the activity that their child is involved in. Having the whole family in judo is also a good way to promote retention for your club.

For the parents who have their child in everything, advise them to pick a couple of activities and enable their child to be excellent in a couple of sports rather than average in a whole bunch of activities. Tell them, “Your child doesn't have to pick judo but let her pick a couple of things she wants to do.”

Often the parents don't have the time to make the commitment to judo. This sport places demands on parents that other sports don’t. With other sports, they can drop the child off or they are picked up or just attend after school. In judo, the parents need to be more involved and that is hard after they worked all day. Reinforce them about all the good they are doing for their child. Remind the students to thank their parents for taking them to judo, for the effort they are putting out for their child. 

(Yes, I have been slacking lately and not writing a lot of posts. Then, I followed that up by having other people like Richard (Blinky) Elizalde and Jim Pedro, Sr. write posts for me, what's up with that?  Well, the fact is that Jim and I are writing a book and I am putting together the first draft of it and trying to get as much as I can ready by the time he leaves for Japan so he can spend the tedious twenty-hour or so flights editing it. Between the two of us, we have written several hundred pages about judo over the last few years, and we retained the copyright on every word of it. We got to thinking it might be a good idea to put it together into a book on developing martial artists. Turns out to be a hell of a lot more work than it sounds. That, on top of actual work running my company, writing papers on statistics for conferences and trying to keep this damn cat, Beijing, off my keyboard, has taken up most of my time. Hayward Nishioka suggested "crowd-sourcing" the book. You'd think by the time a guy is near 70 years old he wouldn't be so up on all the latest terms, but Hayward can surprise you every day. Anyway, he said I should put up on my blog sections of the book and see what people recommended, what they liked what they didn't like.  So, any comments, suggestions, things you like/ dislike about this post? I'll put up Part 2 tomorrow. You don't get a share of royalties - which I doubt will be much - but we will acknowledge in the book any suggestions, so if you are willing to be recognized by name, please give your name. Or,  you are welcome to post anonymously. We are interested in criticism as well, because we would like this to be a good book. We're old - especially Jim - so we may not write another. Actually, I probably will but my next book will be on data analysis.)

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