Competition is something that everyone should do at least once. It can be a chaotic and stressful environment which will demand much of everyone involved. It requires a sense of patience that you may not think you have but you will learn to cultivate over time. One of the best things that someone can have when competing is great coaching.
Over my time as a competitor I’ve seen both good and bad coaching. Recently I went to support a friend who was competing and overheard a coach pushing his pupil in such a way that felt was more detrimental than helpful.
The match was between two first time white belt competitors who you could tell were uneasy about competing in front of so many people. It was a hotly contested battle with both fighters making what some would call dumb mistakes. As expected, one of the coaches started to yell instructions to his charge. What I didn’t expect was the tone that the message carried.
For the most part, his coach was saying the right things but what was lost in translation was the sound of his words. The words themselves were drenched in disappointment and only added to his competitor’s level of stress which actually began to bother me. I don’t think that this was his intention but I wasn’t the only one who noticed.
I understand that as an instructor it may irk you to see your pupil make the mistakes that you may have already gone over during training but you have to remain calm and steady. The person fighting, especially if they are new to it, is already dealing with sensory overload. A lot of their decisions are often motivated by fear, so the last thing that you want to add to that mix is embarrassment or desperation.
Your strategy should be to calm your charge. Taking away as much emotion as you can from your voice while relaying the facts at hand. Your strategy shouldn’t be to verbally walk them through the match in it’s entirety but offer tidbits.
To this day my friend Will has been my favorite coach during a fight. He’s worked nearly all of my matches. While we didn’t win as many as we set out to win, he was invaluable. He was always calm and collected while keeping things simple and concise. He would give me warnings when need be as my spare set of eyes for all that I may have missed.
As coaches and instructors we need to keep this in mind. As our charges are learning to be better practitioners, so do we as coaches.