by Joshua Hagen
Nine out of ten coaches who read that headline immediately snapped their minds shut. If you're still reading this, you're in the ten percent of coaches who are always looking for new ways to improve their coaching, and thereby their athletes' results. You know that even though you have loads of experience, you can always learn more. You also know how ego can stand in the way of progress. You have what is known as a growth mindset: you're one of the rare, 1 in 10 people that are willing to examine and re-examine their strategies on an ongoing basis, and who are never satisfied with status quo approaches.
Here's the scoop: I will go so far as to say that if you're not using an evidence-based approach to coaching, you could literally be standing in the way of your athletes' progress.
So, what makes evidence-based coaching different from just "coaching" as we in the judo world know it?
Evidence-based coaching is about looking at ALL of the cold hard data that is available in an effort to advance an athlete.
The real truth, as hard as it may be to take, is that without definitive answers to our questions, we judo coaches are essentially working on hunches, in every aspect of the position of coach- not just when sitting in the chair, but throughout the entire development of an athlete.
In the field of judo coaching in particular, much stock is taken in the coach's personal level of experience. There is immeasurable value in experience of course: a lifetime of practicing and coaching judo gives a person insight that is impossible to gain in any other way, and that can never, ever be replaced. Our perceptions, however, as educated as they may be, can be incredibly deceptive at times.
The fact is, if you're not meticulously tracking and calculating your students's successes and failures for every throw, and every possible variable that comes their way, and coaching with that information firmly in hand, you are very likely guilty of: A. Operating on hunches at least some of the time, and B. Colouring the facts with your own perspective, both of which options are far too risky and reckless for professional coaches to be playing around with.
Once you know definitively your judoka’s success rate, or precisely what throws are most successful for them, it will greatly affect not only the immediate changes in an athlete’s strategy, but should filter down to your entire system for developing athletes. This does not mean that everyone will suddenly be coaching in the same way, and it will not make your program any less unique- only more informed. Your personal coaching methodology and stamp will only be strengthened and made more effective with all of the data at your fingertips.
The sports world has seen a literal explosion of evidence-based coaching along with video review in recent years, with everyone hoping to get a leg up on their competitors. There have always been statistics kept in major sports, of course, but what information is kept, and how it is utilized, has dramatically changed the landscape. The contracts given to athletes are now much more dependent on the new data sets.
For instance, the measure of a pitcher in baseball was previously tied to how many games they won or lost. While pitchers do play a major part in the outcome of a game, there are far too many variables to give a pitcher all the credit for a win or a loss. The pitcher plays no part in a team scoring a lot of runs, for instance, and conversely, if a team can’t ever seem to score runs, you can't blame the pitcher.
Basketball too has seen a dramatic shift in the way the game is played by all teams. There is far more value placed on 3-pointers today than ever before. Historically, they were just a nice part of the game, but now the single largest commodity your team can have is a high 3-point field goal percentage.
There are so many variables in judo that when isolated or more deeply understood can add up to huge improvements in athletic performance. No matter how experienced you are as a coach, the more information you have, the more impact you can have!
Listen to what our Ambassador Neil Adams has to say about Evidence-Based Coaching
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Athlete Analyzer is developed with the main focus on providing the tools needed for evidence-based coaching in Judo, Ju-Jitsu and BJJ.
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