The Informed Coach



Chapter: What is Coaching?

Excerpts from the "Training for Competition, Coaching Strategy and the Science for Success" Certification Manual.

Chapter: To Coach or not to Coach

Modern judo has many aspects to its make-up, and being an Olympic sport is only one of aspect of it. Judo originally came from a martial art in which it was possible to maim and kill an adversary, but it is now an Olympic sport with high ideals of creating Olympic Gold Medalists. However, one of the more important aspects of judo is its desire to transform its participant into a refined individual; one who, through the practice of judo, gains respect for himself and others. Judo’s founder, Jigoro Kano, was an educator born into the Meiji era of Japan’s modernization. Kano was largely responsible for saving the martial arts by pointing out the positive qualities that judo promoted to those in power: bravery, discipline, dedication, seeking perfection through wholesome physical activity, and an understanding of the economic use of energy to reach its greatest potential. Kano believed that these and many other positive qualities and benefits could be realized through mutual game type interplay. More importantly, he believed that these concepts and lessons practiced in the physical realm could be transferred and used in everyday life.

Considering these high ideals, those aspiring to coach should be mindful of not only the short term goals of winning championships, but how, through coaching, we shape the character of our future citizens. If you take the bus in Greece and want to transfer to another transportation line you ask for a “metaphora”, which means “to carry beyond”. Like this transfer pass, we are, as coaches, responsible for taking goods from one point to another. We, as “coaches,” act as vehicles of transformation and trans-port-ation. We are charged with taking our competitors to a higher place. While the accuracy of this story is unclear, it does emphasize our responsibility as coaches to get our competitors from one place to another. Hopefully to a higher plain and understanding than where he or she began.


  • How did judo evolve into judo?
  • What does a coach do?
  • Who needs a coach?
  • What kinds of sacrifices do champions make?
  • What does it mean to “fill your glasses full”

So what are the things that a good coach needs to know? The coach needs to know the following: Is the competitor in need of a coach? What is his or her expectation of the coach? How much effort is he or she willing to sacrifice to get to their individual goals? What kind of condition is your competitor in to start with? How much information do you as a coach have to get your competitor to the top? How much is your time worth as a coach?

Is the Competitor in Need of a Coach?

Dr. AnnMaria DeMars, 1984 World Champion and keynote speaker at the 2008 California State Judo Coaching and Teaching Conference held at Los Angeles City College, began with these words, “Not everyone wants to be you.” You may be a champion and feel that it’s great. You may be a coach and want your student to be a champion. You may want your students to feel the same way as you do and experience accolades, but not everyone wants to be you.”  She went on further to state that, “people have to be ready to want to be a champion and sometimes we as coaches force the issue without consideration what the motivation of the student is at that time”.

The French Judo Federation, perhaps the second largest judo population in the world, has created many of the world’s great judo champions, but they don’t even start organizing their national competition for children until these aspiring competitors are thirteen years of age. According to child development specialist, Louise Bates Ames Ph.D, thirteen is the age from which the child knows that he or she needs to change and leave “childish things” behind. It is also a time when many become more sports minded. Decisions about activities are now starting to be driven more by self-interests rather than by one-time parental demands, although originally introduced by them. While many of the concepts in this manual will deal mainly with more mature interests, some information can be applied to precocious child competitors holding promise for the future.

Here we are interested in the athlete who is looking for help. Here we are interested in those who aspire to be the best and are willing to do the things necessary to get there. As for the coach he or she should be knowledgeable, not only in the area of judo technique, but also as to how the body works and how to get it to work at its fullest potential. In addition, there is another component that is usually difficult to quantify. Does the coach have heart? Is he caring, and not just looking to find a body to do his bidding and to extend his ego? Does he care about individuals? Does he care about the art, sport, and science of judo?

What Should He or She Expect from the Coach?


United States Judo Federation

National Teachers Institute

Mitchell Palacio, Chairperson

United States Judo Federation

P.O. Box 338

Ontario, OR 97914-0338


Phone: 1-541-889-8753

Fax: 1-541-889-5836