There are a few blogs that I somehow always find myself reading. One such blog is that of Ann Maria DeMars (first American to win a World Judo Championship).
She’s writing a book and a lot of what she is writing ends up spilling over into her blog. She recently wrote two blog posts on the topic of coaching:
It got me thinking once again about what makes a good coach. This is a subject that I often think about, but rarely write about because I feel like I really don’t know enough to write about it publicly even on a stupid little blog like mine. I have many ideas about it, but most are subjective and are constantly evolving.
So let me mention one thing, which is the idea of listening to your coach even if you don’t agree. I’m a big believer in doing just that. If a coach says I shouldn’t compete as much, or should train harder, or more importantly, if a coach corrects a particular technique, I turn off the (usually overactive) part of my brain that wants to think about his suggestion, and just do it.
That said, one prerequisite for unconditional following of instructions is I have to believe (as Dr. DeMars says) that the coach really cares about me as an individual athlete, that he has spent some time considering what kind of things will spark further progress, and genuinely does want what is best for my development as an athlete. That’s why I don’t envy the job a coach is tasked with, since when leading a team of athletes, he really has to spend an immense amount of mental energy thinking, planning, and balancing each individual’s training regimen.
There’s also a difference between coaching and being a business owner. I think it was easier for my wrestling coaches to do what I described above as they didn’t have to worry about all the little pain-in-ass details that are involved in running a martial arts school. Running a martial arts academy while also coaching competitors is a double challenge.
Again, I know very little about it, but I’m learning… slowly.