The Path to Coaching Mastery

Are you a friend or coach, can you be both?

As a coach and professor we have to understand that our role has to be clear to our athletes.  Our job is help them to perform better.  Its not just to make them feel better.  I think that all too often its a similar relationship with your children, sometimes being the “friend” to your child takes a back seat to being a “parent”.


One could make the argument that as an enlightened teacher this role may change.  Take for instance when a student first starts, you know, when they know nothing, they get their guard passed like butter, the get mounted in the first 20 seconds of the roll.  Your job is to insulate them and get them excited about practice, giving them ways to feel an early victory.  With you being the master coach, all the while knowing that Jiu-Jitsu is hard,  and we have to first get the student passionate about training and practicing and the magic of Jiu-jitsu.


I love the book the Talent Code by Dan Coyle  there are so many great things about this simple little book.  I love the part about master coaching.  

The way in which we run a practice or training drill is really important.  The way I teach my staff of instructors to teach a skills is with this acronym.


Demonstrate the move in real time this is what you are going to do.

Explain the move in under 1 minute.  Try to include the “Wooden”  model +,-,+

Model the right way to do it +

Model the the most common error –

Model the right way again +

Exercise Below I am going to go in depth a whole bunch on this.

Correction  Give feedback in the most constructive way possible.

Repetition Set up the environment to do repetition training.  The slow and right, fast and tight flipped classroom is pretty smart.

Now that you have everything together with this teaching model I want to talk about exercising (drilling) the skill that you are developing.

Here is a long video about a topic called motor learning.

At the heart of this video is the idea of block practice verus random practice.

Block practice is simply repeating a movement over and over again without much thought.

Random practice leads to more learning and retention than block practice. Random practice forces us out of auto-pilot and ensures that we read, plan, and do before every rep.

If you listen to the video I think you come away with this conversation that block practice is always bad and random practice is always good.

I think that there should be block practice to understand mechanics but then very quickly start to add some random qualities to the practice.  

A simple strategy that I use with all my classes, including my youth students is the SR/FT (slow and right then fast and tight).  This is a block training method where students are taught two different movement pattern.

Slow and Right:  Focusing on precision movement, focusing on grips, working in a lower stress environment to where they can experiment and make sure the understand all the components.  This also serves as an active rest period for the following.

Fast and Tight:  I then do the same technique but done with speed, agility and athleticism.  It’s really about movement and at the end of this interval they are spent.  No matter if they are working on a closed guard attack or a passing sequence.

This sounds great, it is great, its fun it looks good but from a motor learning component there are only three components of this strategy that are working there is little reading, there is little planning, but lots of doing.  This is a great example of block practicing.  I think in the early stages of development of a movement/pass/attack/flow or sequence this is a fun and productive way of training.

So how could we make this drill more random.  Here is an idea.  Do the exact same interval but know the person can do a “wildcard” counter.  The instructor can scale this from a 0 to a 10.  10 being a death match, 9 being a world’s final, 5 being just ok, 2 being you are a sleep.  You can emphasize to your student that the wildcard could be a static counter, movement (up down forward and back).