Homework: What makes a good coach?

From Julia this time, about “What makes a blue belt?”. (Georgette also posted her results.) The exercise asks you to first list what you want in a coach, and then to promote someone when they begin to line up with that list.

I took Skills to be those things that would be taught in class itself or some other formal classroom setting, while Traits are personality or social interaction skills. Hard vs. Soft, I suppose. Or something like that. Both Traits and Skills can be learned.

So, what do I want in a BJJ coach?… (Also, already went through and marked with an “S” or “T.”) In no particular order:

  • T – concerned about individuals and their progress
  • T – organized & communicative (about schedules, fees, events, etc.)
  • T – patient, encouraging
  • S – motivates students individually
  • S – knowledgeable, detail-oriented; can explain concepts & reasons
  • T – willing (eager, even) to pass on knowledge
  • T – in control of the class; has & sticks to “the rules”; fosters safe environment for all

Interesting idea here. I’m curious to see more lists, too, and to see if any trends shake out. I see that while I of course want a coach who can teach me stuff, I actually want all the touchy-feely stuff a little more.


2 thoughts on “Homework: What makes a good coach?

  1. Yeah – when i got my blue belt my coach mentioned that I was always very helpful to new people. I’ve always tried to go and introduce myself to new people, encourage them, and make them feel welcome. Especially any women visitors.

    Oh – I just edited my blog post to add a great comment by SL, which I am cutting and pasting here:

    Actually Ray mentioned that the Skill section is exclusively BJJ related. So that would make stuff like: Good listening skills, Humble, self-critical, Good judgement of character as Traits instead of skills 🙂 – Things like “black belt” or “competition experience” or “able to submit people 300lbs heavier than them” would be the types of “Skills” he’s talking about. So in line with Ray’s thinking – ALL yours would be considered traits rather than skills – though I would call “Knowledgeable (about BJJ)” a SKILL, while I’d call “Detail oriented” a TRAIT. 🙂

    Or maybe I’m understanding you wrong – for example, wouldn’t motivates students individually be considered a trait? After all, I’ve had white belts who called me when I was sick and absent to find out if I was coming back to class – not a BJJ specific skill.

    I think ultimately, traits can be fostered. You can foster students to care about one another, whether by screaming at them when they don’t, or rewarding people/thanking them for doing it.


    • Heh, I changed my mind a million times about writing everything out individually or combining them and about which were “Skills” or “Traits” (even after my original assumption). Finally just hit “Publish” so I’d quit that.

      And I’m sure I’ll think of some obvious ones that I missed later. I’m already thinking of teachable, humble attitude, etc.

      Definitely think I’m more interested in the Trait side, though — an interpersonal and alongside type of coach rather than how many notches are on his belt. I would prefer the coach who rewards/thanks people than the one who screams at me; personally, I’m more likely to want to please the first, and more likely to do just enough to keep the second from singling me out.

      And I agree on Traits being fostered/”taught” in the academy, both as an example set by the coach and by his reinforcing the behaviors he wants to see.

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