Saturday, August 21, 2010

Maximum Efficiency Drills: Ideas I stole from Steve Scott & Other people

My friend Steve Scott, of Welcome Mat Judo  has written several books, so I can't be expected to memorize all of them. My favorite is his book Coaching on the Mat, and I _think_ this idea was in that book. Or, it might have been from one of those times we were eating at that Italian restaurant in Kansas City and drinking beer. Whatever. It's still a good idea and Coaching on the Mat is still a good book.

Oh, my point, yeah, that. Steve had two, related ideas, actually.

  1. We don't have a lot of partners in the U.S. to hone our skills through randori and good drill training can help overcome that disadvantage. If we did, we would regularly get in trouble in a variety of situations and figure out how to get out of them. We would have that guy who always gets us with seoi nage and have to figure out how to block that. We'd have the woman who always does sankaku and we'd learn to see it coming. And so on for 50 different scenarios. But we DON'T have that so instead we need to use drills to create those situations. We need to have a drill for counters and have our partner come in to a seoi nage and repeatedly practice countering that. We need another drill to practice stopping sankaku before we get stuck. And so on. This requires our coaches and players to be more analytical about their judo, to look at what all the different angles are from which we could get caught and how to defeat each one of them. From the other perspective, we also have to use drills to simulate the situations in which we intend to practice our own techniques. Certainly, Steve didn't invent this idea. Back in the day, Jimmy Martin, Steve Seck, Richard (Blinky) Elizalde and the rest of the old Tenri Dojo crowd did the exact same thing. "Hey, step forward like this with your left foot." "Get a high grip on my and go into o uchi gari" . However, since there have been a LOT of years since this days, I think Steve Scott has been thinking about this a lot, developing a wide variety of drills and I think he articulated it better than we did. His main point was that a really good coach will have considered a huge number of possible situations on the mat and had his or her athletes drill extensively for those long before they get caught in that situation in a tournament. As Jim Hrbek once said, "There are no stupid champions."  (There are some pretty f^^^ing annoying champions, but that's a different subject.)
  2. Since we don't have a lot of time in the U.S. to practice judo, compared to the opportunities available in many other countries, we need to maximize the payoff from the time we do have. Every drill we do should hit at least two or three out of four purposes. These are to improve our judo technical skills, to improve conditioning, to build competitive spirit and to have fun. So, you might do a drill where players do as many of a matwork combination as they can in one minute. Then, they stand up and do one minute of combination drills, again, as many as they can in a minute. They repeat this three times without a break, each time using a different mat technique or combination. Now you have players who have worked for six minutes straight (conditioning), worked on six different techniques (technical skill) and tried to do as many as they could to beat the other people in the room (competitive spirit). Also, notice in this drill that the smallest person in the room can win by being fastest, so it pushes that bigger kid who would always win in randori. It also gives that smallest kid more of an incentive to push him or herself knowing that this is a chance to beat that bigger kid. 
I've actually thought about his ideas (and those of other people) on drill training a lot lately but haven't had a chance to write things down .  The way business has been, I have barely had time to breathe, much less get to practice as often as I would like or run down and watch people compete. (By the way,  congrats to Crystal and Erin on first place today. As for the rest of you people, would it be TOO MUCH TO ASK for you to send me a text message telling me how you did while I am stuck here slaving over a hot computer all day, huh?)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Let Your Child be a Flying Trapeze Zombie

One of the most common questions I get from coaches is how to deal with parents who want to live vicariously through their children.

I have found this problem to be bigger in degree than quantity. What I mean is that far more often parents have a better idea of the interests and abilities of a child than the coach does. Generally, parents bring their child to judo, or any other sport, to make friends, get a healthy amount of exercise and/or because they think they're taking karate because it's all the same.

MOST parents don't have Olympic dreams for their children, and in most cases they are right. They are more interested in sending their children to a good college so they can eventually move them the hell out of the house and quit depending on the Bank of Mom & Dad. More often it is the COACH who wants to invest huge amounts of (the parents') time and money into a child who may have talent but not the motivation. This isn't such a problem, because the parents can just refuse to go along.

When it is the parent, though, who wants it more than Johnny or Susie, who is trying to live vicariously through their children - I have never been able to get through to those parents.

Let me tell you, though --- talent without motivation is a road to nowhere.

I understand the difficulty of having a child with talent without the interest. Accept it. Your child is not you. That's a period at the end of that sentence.

Sometimes I watch Julia at judo practice and I think what a shame it is she doesn't have a passion for it. She doesn't mind judo. She hops in the car most weekends, especially when she knows Ronda is teaching (Ronda is funner, I have been told). Sometimes I watch her pull off a technique and think it's REALLY too bad this is not what she wants to do. But it isn't.

In addition to judo, Julia plays on her school basketball, soccer and volleyball teams. She is on the student council, plays saxophone and just started drum lessons. Watching her at her lesson, I was quite surprised at how well she could read music.

She took a lesson at the trapeze school on the pier and loved it. So, she did two weeks of trapeze camp. Last week she was in a show as a zombie on the flying trapeze.

Parents often come up with explanations to justify what THEY want. Judo will teach their child discipline, to overcome fears, to stick with something they started, make them friends they will have for life, give them skills they will have when they are old. I believe all of those things are true. BECAUSE Julia has been on judo, she has had a leg up on every sport she has ever started. When she wanted to learn the trapeze, she wasn't afraid to fall and she was physically strong, thanks to judo.

However, music also teaches discipline and sticking with something you started and she has stuck with that for years. She's been on the student council for three years (not bad considering she is twelve). Doing a back flip in the air 30 feet above the ground probably takes overcoming some fears.

As a parent, I believe it is your responsibility to help your child grow into a good person. It is, however, neither your responsibility nor your right to force your child to grow into the person that YOU wanted to be nor the you want him or her to be.

So, I say if your child wants to be a trapeze zombie, or dress up like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and fly through the air to be caught by Captain America, let them.