At practice yesterday, two points occurred to me about coaching and ego. Ronda and Eric were doing randori and Gary Butts made the comment,
"AnnMaria will go stand there to make sure they don't go through the window."
One of the black belts who was visiting for the first time laughed, but I went and stood by the window. Going through a plate glass window could seriously hurt somebody. Afterwards, I was telling the other black belt, who also coaches, that my views on coaching had changed over the years. When I was younger I thought, like many people, that a real judo coach could beat everyone in the room, that age didn't matter, size didn't matter, it was just skill.
As I got older I realized that was
I am a little, old person. When I was a little young person I beat a lot of people bigger than me at tournaments. Read this next sentence slowly.
There is no such thing as winning at practice.
You see, that is why they call it practice. It is practice for other things, one of which is going to tournaments where they have winners and losers. Also, I worked out with Miguel Tudela at my old club, Tenri Dojo. Miguel was, at the time, the number one judo player in the 209 and over category. I could not beat Miguel, even in my prime. Size does matter and the only people who pretend it doesn't are the really big people.
Even if you can beat everyone in the room, so what? If you are that tough maybe you should be competing and someone else should be coaching. You may find it is a whole lot harder when you have to go four minutes round after round against someone YOUR SIZE and you DON'T know all the moves the other person is going to do because you never saw him or her before and they ARE going at you 110%.
I had my knee replaced last year. That isn't an irrelevant statement here. A critical job of the coach is maintaining the athlete's safety. I was working out with - a coach - my foot got caught between the mats, I got thrown from the knee up. From the knee down my leg stayed where it was.
Now, I have a different view as a coach. I am watching the facilities, making sure the mats don't come apart that, no one goes flying through a window or smacks into a wall. If there had been someone there watching that day, maybe I would not have been injured.
In our new facility, the mats are permanent and blocked against the wall so they can't come apart. Ronda laughed at me because even at the training camp in Tunisia I picked up some of the mats and moved them so there wasn't a gap. I used to do that regularly at the old location for the West Coast Training Center.
I am always walking around picking up belts so no one can trip on them, standing by the window, making people turn around so they are facing the mat while waiting their turn for randori, rather than with their back to it, moving over people in matwork who are about to run into each other. Yes, it doesn't look as cool as throwing people or armbarring them and it isn't really as fun, either. You know what is way less fun, though? Having your knee replaced.
(Oh, just so you know, I am watching to see people do their techniques right, don't get bad habits, don't break the rules and other judo-related points. I'm not just a movable mat for the window and walls. My point though is that correcting type of behavior can feed a coach's ego, where the standing by the window, fixing the mats, well, not so much.)
The other part of being a coach and ego is kind of a no-lose situation that occurred to me yesterday. When you are a competitor and people you used to be able to catch in pins, throws, armbars or chokes you can no longer catch nearly as often, you get frustrated. Even if it is because they are getting better, the fact is, they are getting better than you. So, if you catch them - good! I am a good judo player. If not, bad! They are improving faster than me.
If it bothers you as a coach if your players start throwing you and armbarring you, then you missed the point somewhere.
Now that you are a coach, it is like this. If I catch them - good! I am not totally old and decrepit yet. If I can't catch them - good! They are getting better. That's the idea. I'm a good coach. So, you get to feed your ego either way. Kind of makes up for the mats- windows - belts thing.