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What to look for in a coach...

Are you the priority for your coach or is money?

Hang on a minute, this is beng written by a coach? Surely this should be coming from someone who isn't currently coaching?


I may be a coach now, but I was once and still am a student. I still compete in Jiu Jitsu, certainly haven't closed the door to any other type of combat sports competition. Having been teaching martial arts in Norwich and Norfolk for the past 15 + years, I am experienced in getting in right and definitely with getting it wrong, specifically when it comes to coaching and being coached. I will definitely get it wrong in the future but I will do all I can to avoid that happening. 

So, what is it you should look for when working with a coach?

Well, for a start when you are beginning your journey into martial arts, you should consider somewhere safe and supportive and that won't push you too far too soon but will offer encouragement and enough of a push when you really need it. Most people don't start training to become the 'next big thing'. People start training for a variety of other reasons, around 85% + just want to get fit and enjoy doing it. Still though, many don't know their full potential, and may need a nudge and put themselves forward for competition or more.

If however you are more experienced, you need to consider if the coach you are with has enough of a vested interest in you and not just your money you pay them. Writing from my point of view, I have seen experienced people come and go and either I/we are right for them or not, it's not a simple answer. If it feels right, then it probably is. Equally, if it doesn't feel right, then you need to make a decision. 

Yes, you can guage if you coach is the right one based on how many fights you are successful with but a word of warning, I have seen many, many fighters move from one coach to the next, thinking this is the reason they are losing, when actually there is much more at play than this, often it not being the reason! More than that, I have seen fighters move to world class coaches without any success and seen them move from world class coaches to lesser known gyms with huge successes. You can see this for yourselves out in the pro ranks and in sports news outlets.

Connecting is just as important as skill sets.

You may have found a coach with incredible levels of skill and a history of teaching some really successful competitors, however, if you don't connect on a personal level, each training session can be hard. We can't expect to get on with everyone and that's ok, you need to feel comfortable with them.

On top of this, don't expect a coach to know all the answers, don't expect them to be highly-skilled in practising the art themselves, bear in mind their age for the start. Look at Helio Gracie, still coaching well into his old age, he ain't doing any flying armbars is he!

However, you should expect at the very least, they can explain techniques throughly and with ease, in a way that you can understand, bearing in mind everyone learns slightly differently. 

On the flip side, you may see someone who can demonstrate techniques to a very high level, this does not make them a good candidate as a coach, specifically if they can't explain it easily and help you to understand the complexities. 

Final thought...

Test your coach, put them through their paces, respectfully, and ensure you get your money's worth and see how much they will invest in YOU!

No coach is perfect, no student is either. You should work collaboratively to reach your goals.


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