United States Judo Federation

National Coach Certification Program

Scouting Your Opponents

Excerpts...

Amarillis Savon of Cuba had been well coached by Ronaldo Veitia, perhaps one of the world’s best coaches, Savon’s next opponent was Ryoko Tamura of Japan. The match started out with Tamura in her usual flashy moving style. Savon moved cautiously about attempting a foot sweep here a hip technique there, just enough to avoid a non-combativity penalty but waiting to possibly counter Tamura. Each of Tamura’s assaults on Savon were preempted by Savon’s entry or a grip preventing Tamura’s left hand grip. Savon also guarded against her right hand grip having been warned by her coach, “When she grips high watch out for an uchimata, haraigoshi or osotogari. If she grips low it’s going be a drop seoinage.” Armed with information like this Savon looked confident while Tamura unthinkingly looked wildly for an opening. Midway through the match. Savon almost catches Tamura on an uchimata counter but the athlete that she is turns to avoid the trap.

Holding a high grip, Savon is still looking to counter the wily Tamura. Baiting Tamura to attempt a haraigoshi, Savon steps forward and out of nowhere is upended.  The action takes the players a distance of about three meters, rolling over a surprised Savon the two looked like a swirling ball from beginning to end. Palms facing forward she confusedly looks towards her coach as if to ask, “How could that be?” It was a seoinage.

So what went wrong?  As a coach, unless you had a keen eye for details, you would not have seen Tamura’s hand slide down from the high grip to her seoinage hand position. It all happened in a split second with no time to warn Savon. The other method that would have shown this slight of hand would have been by a video replay. Again it would be too late to do anything about it, but the information would be invaluable for future reference. Any coach or competitor becoming aware of this could now make preparations for the next time. This is essentially what scouting is about; studying the opponent so that you know what to expect from your opponent.

Query

  1. Why is scouting important?
  2. What is one of the best ways to scout the opponent?
  3. What equipment is needed?
  4. What are we looking for?
  5. What do we do with the information?

If you have ever played football, basketball, or baseball at a college level you will have watched films or tapes of the game. If your school is a major player they will have access to special machines to freeze frame, slow motion, advance frame by frame, reverse frame by frame, and some even have the ability to draw lines over their screens. This is to isolate and study strengths and weaknesses of the opposition. A good coach or competitor will study tapes and devise drills for himself or his athlete. Every dark corner is looked into to maximize performance.

Hayward Nishioka, 8th Degree Black Belt

Judo, HEART and SOUL

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