Coaching kid’s class, like Jiu Jitsu in general, helps you with your balance. I’m not just talking about stance drills, which are by the way, really fun. If you aren’t familiar with stance drills here is how they work. Everyone gets in their best stance and the coaches get to push the kids to check how good their stance is. The balance I am thinking of is the balance of goals for each class: 1) nobody gets hurt 2) people learn stuff and 3) they also have fun. I suspect that for most of our kids, their goals are prioritized in the reverse order. I don’t think that anyone wants to get hurt or to hurt their teammates/training partners, only that it’s usually the last thing on their minds.
Coaching kid’s calls can be very rewarding. I enjoy helping the new students learn drills, dominant positions and our gym culture. Some kids pick up movements so easily it amazes me, where others start out with such poor coordination I suspect they never played outside much. The latter are the most satisfying to watch improve. The confidence that develops with graceful movement transforms people.
Through my experience I have learned the following…
It is important to have the right training partner. Some pairs of students become instant giggle boxes, whereas others are like oil and water. I’ve noticed that brothers can be especially challenging, but if you think of some of the famous brothers in Jiu Jitsu, it can also be motivating.
If you are getting frustrated, it’s time to try doing things differently. This one applies to both the kids and myself. When I get tired of telling kids to keep drilling or that it’s not rolling time yet, I switch to asking them what they are doing and if they’re going to start drilling.
Competition can be healthy. Unlike kid’s soccer and other sports that don’t keep score, in BJJ there are distinct winners and losers and it’s important to learn how do either gracefully. I sincerely believe that when coaching kids in tournaments, helping them deal with their losses is as important as giving them good advice during their match.
People can learn to modify their strength and still use good technique. A desire to win can be healthy, but playfulness makes learning easier. In kid’s class they rotate for rolls, the biggest can go with the smallest the most experienced with the least. If you can coach them through it (until they learn to modify on their own), it can be a good experience for both people.
Jiu Jitsu is fun. Sometimes it’s easy to forget about the fun part, when you’ve been repeatedly tapped out by a new white belt or when everything seems to hurt. The best advice for enjoying longevity in your Jiu Jitsu career is to ‘keep it playful’.
About the Author:
Irene Matsuoka is a purple belt and has been coaching kid’s class for about 3 years. She is working on a master’s in public administration and a blog on personal safety: Preparation, Practice & Positivity