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.)