This is the Judo blog of Lance Wicks. In this blog I cover mainly Judo and related topics. My Personal blog is over at where I cover more geeky topics. Please do leave comments on what you read or use the Contact Me form to send me an email with your thoughts and ideas.

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2012 up to July. Perspective in Coaching. 

In summary, my 2012 up to July has been... "whew!".

This year has been hectic and tough and rewarding all rolled up into a pile of awesome. Outside of Judo I have been really busy, mainly earning a living writing code in Perl (see ) for boring nerdy details there.

On the Judo side I continue to coach my little kids club and the University club (almost) every week. The Alresford Club (kids) has been a challenge with our move almost a year ago to a new venue. The dynamic is very different in the hall but we are still growing slowly.
The club is more stable than ever, thanks in no small part to the amazingly reliable second coach there. Cherie is a fantastic coaching student at Winchester University and she gets there early every week, has taken on the challenge of planning terms and sessions and done a great job. The kids are very lucky to have her and I am even more lucky to have a second coach to rely on. Reliability is a much undervalued virtue!

The Uni club has taken some twists and turns but continues to be very rewarding. Thanks in part to the continued support of our local development officer and the staff of the university.

One of the initiatives I/we have started for the Uni is a league competition for them to compete in. As the majority are novices, existing competitions are all but useless to us. People their age are generally experienced players, so not much fun to fight against.
So we have held 3 test events and have a 6 month schedule planned from October for a team based Hampshire competition. This has been well received and we are very lucky that the university, BJA Hampshire and Hampshire County Council have all been supportive.

On the younger side of things, I again helped organise the the Judo side of the Hampshire Games. This is the largest sporting event in Hampshire, with about 3000 kids involved across a wide variety of sports.
As in 2011, we held local participation events that made players eligible for the main event on June 16th. This means more work (including myself and another great reliable person Steve Lansley) running 6 or so local competitions. Then the two mat event in Aldershot. Just like last year we were lucky to have great volunteers helping and I can't thank them enough.

So thats 10 events I've run this year; before we get to my amazing role as part of the EJU and IJF computer teams.

As my last blog post said, I got to go to the Senior European championships and amazingly was trusted to run the live internet video streams for the biggest event the EJU put on. I am still rather in shock by the trust that people put in me. I have just returned from Montenegro where I was part of the team that delivered the Cadet European Championships. I was head of IT for the Commonwealth champs in January and spent two weeks working in Hyderabad, India (not Judo).
I travelled with fellow EJU Coach Danny Murphy to the Malta Open with a small Hampshire team and later this year I'll be going to Croatia for the Junior European Championships and probably the Rome World Cup too.

So thats another 6 weekends gone (two more at least planned). So thats if I work it out anywhere near accurately 16 out of 27 weeks so far I have been away. Phew!!! No wonder I am struggling to balance things and to find a window to do things like a BJA revalidation event. WHich I need to get done ASAP.

I do strongly believe that you need to give to receive, meaning that I don't believe I'd be as lucky and get to work at the bug events if I didn't pay it back (or pay it forward) with grass roots coaching and grass roots events. I guess it's a "karma" type of thing.

One of the things that being part of multiple levels of Judo teaches me is perpective. I see the highest level of my sport and the lowest level. In a week I might introduce a small kid to Judo, coach a talented university student and work at an elite level sporting event and watch in detail the very very best in Judo.

I am very very fortunate to have this perspective and I think it makes me a better coach for sure. I have the perspective to know that my kids class has to be fun, but that it has a place in the path to the elite level. I know that the grass root competition has to be run professionally and that it's important and serious to those players in it. But I also know that really it's a low level event for low level players and that it needs to be treated as such.

If I can be negative for a moment, I get very stressed and worried when I see coaches that don't see the the bigger picture. I've seen some shocking behaviours. Be it coaches turning blind eyes to teenage athletes starving and dehydrating themselves to make weight at local and even lower level international events. Or parents thinking that little johny/janey is an athlete when they are 8 years old. Or coaches who shout and holler and get worked up over a novice referee making mistakes at a kids tournament. Perspective is a wonderful thing and I am hugely lucky to have it forced upon me by my involvement in a wide variety of levels of the sport I love.

I wonder if we can teach perspective? I suppose it is possible. But I don't see it in the coaching courses and mindsets of my sport. I wonder if it's a likely project to try and put a workshop together that had as it;s "learning objective" the goal to give perspective to coaches.

I am immensely proud to be a coach of a small village Judo club. I think It;s a wonderful thing to provide that opportunity to children. I do not see it as anything but a healthy positive activity for the kids. Some will come to love Judo, most will leave Judo. My hope is that all of them gain something positive from the experience at least. I hope that some will come to love the sport of Judo too. And of course it would be amazing to one day attend an Olympic games and see an athlete on the mat that I introduced to the sport.

But as much as elite level Judo is my fascination and passion, I do not confuse what I do every week at the clubs I coach at with elite Judo. It is not and can't be. So I do not fool myself or those around me into thinking that the Judo we have in our area is anything but area level Judo.
One day that will I hope change and we will have elite level Judo in Hampshire, but currently the only elite level Judo near us is living in Camberley. Thats the fact of the matter.
My hope is that things like the Hampshire Team Championships and the great support of Sport Solent will progressively raise the level in Hampshire and that we will have elite Judo in our county, but for now it's not there.
I have faith it will happen as I know JudoBob, and I am watching the level of Judo in Cambridge increase due to his vision and effort. I also see the wider world and countries the size of HAmpshire producing elite Judo and know that that too is proof that it is possible. Not easy, but possible.

As a coach, perspective is vital. I use it everytime I go on the mat to coach. I need to look at who I have to coach and treat them appropriately. When I have heavyweight novices doing Judo in the "off season" from their main sport. I need to coach differently to when I have a mat full of 8 year olds or as I have had through the fighting chance programme a bunch of beginner kids referred to me by the police.

When I watch the people I coach compete, I need to balance what my perspective of the level is and theirs. As a coach I need to be aware that the level may be super low, but that to the player it is perhaps the biggest competition they have ever fought in. I need to build it up to the right level for them, and not belittle it. Equally, I can't build it up too much. Players must have perspective too and know that winning a medal at a local event does not mean they are ready for "the big time".
As a coach, I need to try and understand where a player is in the spectrum of ability and help them find the place they should be on that spectrum today, tomorrow and at the end of their career.
I want to help them achieve everything they can, but I must be careful not to misled them and causing them to fail when the goal was unrealistic. I want them to find a place in that spectrum where they feel that they achieved what the should have achieved and are happy. That may be an Olympic Gold medal, a national tracksuit, a county badge, an local medal, a black belt, a yellow belt or just a fun experience one evening at a Judo club.

This for me is where perspective is vital and where we as real-life coaches need to be most aware. I don't think our current coach education does well at teaching coaches that day to day coaching is not all about periodised performance plans, technique and skill development, progression and all the rest. It fails to teach us and prepare us for the daily grind, of teaching the novice syllabus over and over. It does not teach us that this needs to be something we enjoy doing over and over or we are not going to stay sane.
If we lose perspective on what we do, we will create false ideas around what we do as coaches and start coaching in ways that are not right for our situations.
I actually think that coaching is a bit like anything, over time the calibration gets a bit wrong. We all start to veer from the correct path, I do it all the time. I know I do. But, we must not beat ourselves up about it or worse pretend that we don't. We must have courage and do something to get the calibration corrected, to set ourselves on a better path.

A personal example is my kids coaching I think has been a bit stale. I felt it vaguely and the second coach at the club felt it too. I think she actually felt it more but is too polite perhaps to take me to task over it. So I invited Chris Doherty to take a session. I was honest with him and said I thought the kids were bored. I didn't enjoy facing up to the fact I had been doing a poor job of coaching, but I take heart in the fact that I did eventually acknowledge it and took action to correct errors in myself.

So anyway... thats the rambling diatribe done. A bit of a splurge of ideas and ideas straight from my page to keyboard and website. Not overly coherent, but I hope interesting to you dear reader. I am a firm believer in the idea that I need to reflect as a coach and I find blogging a great way to do so. Perhaps the reaosn my coaching has been a bit stale as I described above and it took so long to find it out is because I have not been reflecting via this blog enough? Naughty me! I can do better!

If you have thoughts on any of what I have written please do leave a comment below and or drop me an email to

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