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Balancing the Needs of the Hobbyist and Competitors

The environment of a Jiu-Jitsu gym involves a diverse community with varying goals, from those pursuing it as a fulfilling hobby to others driven by the desire to compete. My goal with this post is to delve into the delicate balance coaches must strike to cater to the needs of both hobbyists and competitors within a gym.


I would add, hobbyists keep the lights on and the competitors are almost the advertisement that the school is of quality. It is easy to cater and spend a large portion of the gym's resources on the competitors, but that can be a bit of a mistake.




Understanding Diverse Goals

In any Jiu-Jitsu gym, practitioners enter with distinct motivations. Some are drawn to the art as a recreational pursuit, seeking enjoyment and fitness. On the other hand, there are those fueled by a competitive spirit, aiming to test their skills in tournaments. Recognizing and respecting these diverse goals is fundamental to fostering an inclusive training environment.


Understanding that yes, the competitors are in essence working against a deadline, which will require your attention, that doesn't make the hobbyist any less important. The hobbyist require your attention just as much, even if they have no intention of competing ever.


The goal of the competitor is generally an easier one for an instructor to handle and in some ways to understand. The end goal is to win and in order to win, the students needs to train as much as possible.


One of my biggest headaches was having an instructor who just didn't quite understand what it was like to be a hobbyist. The hobbyist is balancing a full time job, maybe even multiple, a spouse or significant other, potentially kids, and other obligations. The fact that a student was doing their best to show up three times a week while balancing everything else, should be respected and applauded. Placing an additional burden of, "you need to compete" or "you need to train more", just isn't fair. It almost diminishes what the hobbyist is doing.


Tailoring In-Person Instruction

Effective coaching involves creating versatile in-person instruction that benefits everyone. Classes should cover fundamental techniques essential for all practitioners while incorporating more advanced strategies for those with competitive aspirations. Instructors should ensure that each individual, regardless of their goals, receives personalized attention and guidance.


With this in mind, the intensity of specific classes should also be monitored. A competition class is just that, it should be geared to competitors. There should also be an understanding that the hobbyist that comes in for an evening class or even during their lunch break, still needs to go to work the following morning, and more than likely isn't trying to be run over by competitors and potentially get injured.


It really is a balancing act because you will have hobbyists that do compete.


Seminars that Speak to All

Hosting seminars that cater to both hobbyists and competitors is essential for maintaining an inclusive gym culture. These sessions should encompass a range of techniques, from basic to advanced, allowing all attendees to gain valuable insights. The goal is to inspire and empower everyone, irrespective of whether they train for enjoyment or competition.


You might have this ultra flashy, tricky technique that a specific athlete is known for. If you bring them in for a seminar, how many of your students will really benefit from it? If it's the new wave in competition, you want your competitors to be aware of it, perhaps even learn it, but having someone come in for a seminar to cover it for your academy may not be the best use of that valuable learning time.



Private Lessons for Personalized Growth

Coaches should offer private lessons that cater to the individual needs of both hobbyists and competitors. Hobbyists may focus on refining techniques at their own pace, while competitors can receive targeted training to sharpen their skills for upcoming challenges. Personalized growth is key to keeping all practitioners engaged and motivated.


Private lessons in my opinion are the best way to supercharge your training. Everything is geared towards you as a student, you get to dictate what you want covered or allow the instructor to focus on weaknesses that they may see in your own game. There is absolutely nothing better and honestly I wish I had the income to do it when I was coming up.


Unlocking Potential through Remote Coaching

Extending coaching beyond the gym through remote sessions is a valuable resource for both hobbyists and competitors. This platform allows practitioners to continue their learning and improvement journey from the comfort of their own space. Remote coaching sessions should be designed to cater to the specific needs of each individual, offering flexibility and accessibility.


I believe this can be an add-on charge or just something you do as an extra for those that may not be able to pay for private lessons. Students can ask questions outside of the class structure, perhaps get feedback on a roll they recorded, or receiving guidance on where they are in terms of their goals.


When I say remote coaching, I don't mean exclusively a remote coaching sessions. I mean, that you provide tips, suggestions, and advice outside of the class. I have an open door policy with my students, they can call, text, and IM when they need me. Many of them take me up on the office and in doing so it strengthens the student-teacher relationship, regardless of whether the student is a competitor or hobbyist.


The Importance of Video Analysis

For hobbyists and competitors alike, video analysis is a powerful tool for accelerating growth. Coaches should emphasize the significance of reviewing training sessions and competitions through video. This practice enables practitioners to identify strengths, areas for improvement, and gain a deeper understanding of their unique journey in Jiu-Jitsu.


I will continue be a proponent of video analysis because it's authentic feedback on what you're doing during live rounds. There are no hypotheticals or maybes, it's very specific feedback that create genuine improvement. If a student can take away one or two things from a video review, it amplifies their abilities at a much faster rate.


Conclusion

Balancing the needs of hobbyists and competitors is an intricate task within the realm of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Effective coaching involves recognizing diverse goals, tailoring instruction, hosting inclusive seminars, providing personalized private lessons, offering remote coaching, and emphasizing the importance of video analysis.


By navigating this balance, coaches create an environment where every practitioner, regardless of their goals, can be seen and heard.



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