Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Guest post from Jim Pedro, Sr: How to be a better coach

Since  I am working on The Book and getting ready for our photo shoot up at the Black Belt studios to take the pictures for it, Jim has been jumping in with some guest posts on the blog.

 Theoretically you are not a coach first, but a teacher first and a coach second. You have to have taught the player something before he or she can even think about competing. Even though you are teaching, you have to still be learning all of the time yourself.

I still find myself making a mistake once in a while, but that is the difference from my past experience, when I made a lot more mistakes. The key fact is that I learned from those mistakes I made.  Too many coaches don't recognize their mistakes and continue making the same mistakes over and over.

If you're an ethical coach you can put your ego aside to analyze what you are doing as a coach to identify your mistakes and stop making them, to see what works and do more of it.

If you can't name any mistakes you have made as a coach, you are never going to get better because you can't admit that there is anything you still need to learn.

Continuing education doesn't have to mean attending workshops or clinics. It can be discussing your ideas with other coaches and learning from each other. It can be reading books on judo (or whatever your sport is), watching training DVDs or reviewing the matches of your players and their competition. I read a lot of books on coaching and when I'm watching another sport - football, basketball, wrestling - I observe the coaches and see how they react, what they do in certain situations.

Coaching is very difficult to teach as I believe it is 90% experience. You are going to make mistakes with your players, it's just inevitable, and a good coach will learn from that experience. The more you can learn from the experience of others, though, learning from their mistakes, the better.

I'm not just saying this because we are writing a book. I have believed this in all of my years of coaching. You have to keep observing, keep learning. After over 40 years of coaching, I'm still learning and changing.

I even got an iPad so I could watch videos on YouTube.

(And Jim doesn't want to hear any smart remarks from any of you about my iPad, which means I think you should all make as many as possible.)


Enosis said...

In my opinion, coaching skills is the area most lacking in judo.

Jeremy said...

Interesting stuff Jim. I'm going to start writing down mistakes I make in practice, and then mistakes my partners are making. There's a lot I could do with that information.

Question Jim (or AnnMaria): How the hell do you guys get in enough reps? In boxing I can do 1000 reps (over a day or two) of a move and then start incorporating it into sparring.

But in grappling this is bloody impossible. I can't find anyone interested in doing more than a few minutes of reps/drills.

I guess the issue related to coaching is... approachability? I'm not that comfortable walking up to my (new) coach and asking him to add 10-20 minutes of situational drills to his lesson plan to accommodate me. Seems a little arrogant.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

My answe is to do as many as you can with as many people who will let you. Ask people to meet you at practice early (with the coach's permission). Ask people to stay late. You can do 20. Reps with the first person who comes early, 25 with the second person who comes early, and the same with two different people after practice

Dr. AnnMaria said...

Jim says that if an athlete can't come to your coach and ask for help there is something wrong. If you feel uncomfortable asking your coach if you can work out more, there is a problem.

I have conversations with my players all of the time and if they want to know why we're doing something, I'll tell you.

Writing down your mistakes is a good idea. Just like writing down all of your reps, you can see if you are getting better

aglee said...

Some rambling thoughts...

If I could, I would have someone video me in practice, then review immediately after. Maybe not replay every minute of practice, but I'd at least skim the video. I don't know, maybe I'd get tired of that, but the couple of times I've seen myself I've spotted little things it was nice to know.

Chess players do something like that. They write down all their games, competition or not, and analyze them to look for the point where they made the critical error that lost the game.

AnnMaria, if your iPad has a camera maybe you could use it occasionally to help show people what they're doing right and wrong. Maybe pick one pair of players and video their randori, and do a post-mortem right there, using freeze-frame and slo-mo to focus on important parts.

It seems to me we have tools now to do on-the-spot video analysis in a way that I used to think only Olympic training centers had the facilities to do.

Jeremy said...

I have a teaching style question. There's a Roger Gracie academy a couple hours from me that I was considering going to, but they do something weird.

They segregate the belts. As in, all white belts train together in one class, blue belts train in another class at a different time, and so on.

I'm really worried that's going to hamper my progression. Apart from sequencing, I feel like always having someone significantly better to go against really helps me progress fast.

Any thoughts on their approach?

Al B Here said...


I have a tough time criticizing someone with Roger's pedigree. He's considered the most fundamentally sound BJJ practitioner in the world, so I would trust his system, myself.

While there is something to be said for training with people who are better than you, you'll find that there's a skill level hierarchy even among the white belts. If upper belts choose to not play nicely, the only improvements you may see is in your tapping reflexes. At least with fellow white belts, you can try to use what you've learned against people who haven't necessarily already learned the defense and counters.

TomLurker said...

I heard someone on an mma forum refer to Ronda's striking as "a drunk hobo swatting at flies".

I know that person first heard that hear! They denied it, but I had never heard that until I saw it hear.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

That's because everybody reads my blog - ha ha