Tuesday, October 18, 2011


The chapter I'm working on now for The Book is on coaching. We tag-teamed and it's Jim's turn to do some matwork techniques and edit my draft of the matwork section, while I edit his first draft of the coaching section. Thanks to Riley McIlwain for taking photos and Kayla Harrison for posing in them. Also, thanks in advance to Gary Butts and Victor Ortiz from the West Coast Judo Training Center who are going to be helping fill in the gaps this weekend by posing for some of the turnovers. (And, yes, Ronda, I DO deliberately have a white person in a white gi and a black person in a blue gi in all of the pictures we take at West Coast because it makes it easier for people to see immediately who is doing what to you.)  So .... here is what I am working on today .....

To excel at coaching, you need to be smart enough to do it and dumb enough to believe it’s important. We thought about that saying a lot before deciding it’s true - which is why we have divided this section into three chapters, believing it’s important, being smart enough to do it and there isn’t a manual for this.

Over the years, we could have made a lot more money managing hedge funds, writing software or selling real estate than we’ve made teaching martial arts. It isn’t that a person can’t earn money in the martial arts industry - both of us have children who make a living coaching, teaching, competing and marketing to martial artists. The truth is, though, that anyone who succeeds as a professional martial artist probably has the drive, mental and physical ability to succeed in a lot of areas of life.

In this chapter, we’ll do our best to convince you that coaching is important in building champions, both on the mat and in life.

It’s been said that athletes don’t care how much you know but they know how much you care. That’s not completely true. We believe you need to care about your athletes. They need to trust you, to believe when you tell them to change weight divisions, switch their training plan, work out at one gym versus another - that you have their best interests at heart. No matter how technically skilled you may be, no matter how much you are up on the latest theories of coaching, no matter the number of degrees you get, if your athletes don’t trust you and you don’t have their best interests at heart you will never reach your potential as a coach. If your athletes reach their goals it will often be despite you instead of because of you.

Caring is necessary but it’s not enough. You can love your players like your own children but if you don’t know enough to tell them to lock the arm against the body and pinch their knees together when they go for an armbar they aren’t going to win as much as if you knew a little more technique.

If you’re a completely selfish person, no book is going to change you. If you’ve read this far, though, we assume you’re a coach who sincerely wants to help your athletes improve or an athlete motivated to succeed in your sport as far as humanly possible.

Coaching matters. It certainly matters when it comes to winning. The next chapter is all about how, the details of what to do. Right now, we want to run by three reasons why coaches help you win, why coaching matters. 

First of all, a good coach pushes you harder than you can push yourself. We’ve said it throughout this book - intensity is key to winning. It will pull you through when the opponent has better technique, more experience, better tactics. Part of that intensity comes from physical conditioning and part of it comes from mental toughness. The exercises in the first section develop physical condition, but they also build mental toughness as a coach pushes, encourages and demands more from an athlete than he or she believes possible. Many of the drills in the second section are about developing matwork techniques, but some, like the escape drills from pins and armbars, are also about building intensity. How much do you hate losing? How badly do you want to get out of that pin?

[Yeah, I know there are two more but it is past 1 a.m. and I have to write a lecture tomorrow, read four chapters on multivariate methods and write a paper on categorical models. Plus, I have clients who actually want me to write programs and answer their email. So I'll have to get those other two tomorrow. ]


Stephen said...

Skip the marketing parts and listen to the parts on deliberative practice and how people have to show up to work, not talk, etc.

I think you will get a kick out of the overall material.


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