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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Astana Grand Prix Day One Finals! 

After an exciting morning session the finals block is scheduled to start at 5pm stana time (12 Noon UK time).

Tune in and support your sport!
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Astana Judo Grand Prix 2014 Live Stream Day 1. 

Astana Judo Grand Prix 2014 Live Stream Day 1.
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Coaching styles... 

Recently, Bob posted an article reflecting on his coaching style. It resonated with me as did some articles from the every open AnnMaria De Mars. Then I attended the BJA "Matside Coach" training and this blog post is me processing all these things and sorting out my thinking on and around the topic(s).

Like Bob, I am not an autocratic "my way or the highway" type coach naturally. In Bob's article he mentions high profile examples of successful coaches that are. And he goes on to consider if his style needs to change.

That got me thinking near identically, do I need to be more of an autocratic style coach. Do I need more bluster and more fire. More "be there!" and less "will you be there?".

Maybe, there is something to be said for the "nice guys come last" quote?

I know outside of coaching that my tendency to try and work with people can be detrimental. Too few people in the Judo community seem to want to actually get on with doing and seem to prefer to form committees and sub-committees and "teams" as opposed to getting the job done. This is true beyond Judo circles.

In my history I have bent over backwards to try and find a path where the other people are happy. On occasion it has worked, but more often recently I have taken the hard-nosed approach and success has come from that. It makes me wonder if more of that is required.

I am not a naturally confrontational person, I don't enjoy the arguments that others seem to enjoy. I prefer to talk about something, define the problem, define some solutions, choose one, and get to work.

But back to my coaching style...

I teach in a university and I am currently wondering if in the new semester a harder more demanding approach might work?

We have a sports club mentality and a strong sport culture in the University. I wonder if taking it the next step and being more focussed on the team and performance is the right direction. Playing the game is what matters versus coming to the club.

I'm considering leaping in with both feet and forming a uni team and a city team. The CIty team I have this idea to "buy" some players (mainly from Camberley) to compete in a selection of events that will raise the team profile.

It will cost money obviously and it will require me approaching the whole process differently. I see the "City" team leading the student team and leading a culture of athletics rather than a culture of a martial arts society.

To do it, my persona and style will need to change. I'll need to be more whistle blowing baseball cap wearing coach and less instructor in judogi. Ideally I can get some coaches in to work on the mat so I can focus on the team elements.

I'll need to be pushier and more demanding. I'll need to set some rules and be ready to enforce them. It's not something that will come naturally, but perhaps it is good to force some change?

Whilst on the "Matside Coaching" course, I had plenty of food for thought. The instructor showed photos of leading coaches matside and having had a opportunity to watch these coaches in person I felt at times the images were in conflict with the message.

The message was clear, this is a BJA course telling you to shutup and behave matside. Be a good little coach and don't argue with the referees etc. Which is a good message and one I agree with... in part.

But when I watch the matside coaches of the world perform, they scream and shout. They are not impassive and quietly watching a well prepared athlete perform.

They are part of the players game, the top coaches are driving the players on. Influencing the outcome; changing the flow of a match.

So for me the message was mixed. And it needs to be I think as at the level of the coaches present mainly, the answer is shutup and behave.

I don't feel that any coach as a kids event (u18) in the UK should be shouting and screaming matside. The "supercoach" performances I see make me sick to the stomach sometimes.

We have such a weak competition structure here in the UK that every event is a little one. So treat them as such coaches. You have nothing riding on it, so chill and enjoy the day.

When we have something worth fighting for, then get excited, get animated. But there is so little at stake at even most national level events you just look silly. Take the suit off unless you are at an EJU/IJF event.
Lose the TeamGB tracksuit, this ain't the Olympics.

All that said, we should have events that matter to people in this country. And we should have events where it's appropriate that coaches wear suits and take it serious and engage fully in the players performance. For me it's tragic that we don't have this level of domestic competition in place.

Which brings me back to my coaching style, having said I want to be more autocratic. It will be hard as we have no events of value to take seriously. I created the Hampshire Team Championships to create a local competition that was enjoyable and tangible for my novice players to compete in.

At those events, I'm lucky to talk to my players let alone "supercoach" mode them. I'm normally running the computer and the event on the whole.

But this is good, at that level it's appropriate to keep the level of input low and to teach the players that they should relax by me being relaxed.

And that leads me back to the matside coaching course. I left worrying that the level 1 coaches got the wrong message.

There was a little worrying current of "we have to be professional". Which I felt was being interpreted as take it serious. Where as for the coaches in the room they need to be relaxing and letting the kids they coach enjoy playing the sport.

Which... will be another post in itself.
My thoughts on the lack of participation in competition in British Judo are becoming more and more fixed. In short, people seem to take the percentage figures of people that do Judo to people that do Judo and don't compete and interpret it wrong.

I.e. the number thrown around was 3% of people doing Judo and 97% not competing (yes I chose to express it that way intentionally).
Yet virtually every coach in that room had competed, especially the older, higher level ones. For me there is a direct link; I meet so few people involved in Judo that were not competing at some stage.

I find it so worrying that people hear the 3% figure and see that as a good reason to to make up terms like "competitive" and "recreational" players. I see people catering and encouraging doing Judo without competing at all.

For me the 3% figure is a blight and should be the otherway around. a small minority of people should not do Judo and just attend a club.

You don't join a golf club and not play golf. You don't join a gym and not workout. You don't join a cricket club and not play.

At this point people are normally turning red and going "but... but... but..."

And yes I know what you are going to say "some people don't want to compete". And right now a majority of people are in that category. And this is a despicable situation which makes me almost ashamed to be part of Judo.

The way I see this is that we have made Judo competitions so undesirable that a vast majority of people don't want to compete.

We desperately need to address this situation and change it. We need to get rid of the all day competitions where it's knockout, miles away and scary.

We need home court advantage, we need round-robin and team events. We need one of matches between people held in the club. We need more and different and we need things we have yet to discover.

We need to lose the coaches that think it is okay to have a majority of your club not playing Judo and just handing over mat fees.

We need to get into this for playing and improving those who come into Judo. We need to remember where we came from and what sport is all about at the core and how Judo was born into the period of history where the Olympic Games were born and athleticism as a social good was ingrained into Judo and the world.

Sorry... rambling.

So in summary, I think I will be a harder nosed coach this semester pushing players to be athletes more.

I shall let you know how it goes.


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Social Media and Social Networking for Sport 

Recently I wrote a short article about "Crowd Funding for Athletes" which talks about how athletes can use social networks and crowd funding to further their careers.

I thought I would follow up with a small piece about social media.

Both this and the crowd funding article are born a little by the mis-use I see in these potentially fantastic tools.

So... less delve into it.

Social Media
Social media is all the new avenues to publish things for other people to see. Be that photos on instagram, videos on youtube, podcasts on soundcloud, blogs on wordpress or just status updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Most regular readers will be aware of my experiences with these tools. I've been blogging since 2004, my first lecture on social networking was at the University of Bath in 2008.

Whats good?
The key word in social networking and social media is the word "social". So the important thing to keep in mind is that what ever you do is for other people; not you! It's a two way conversation.

So it is important not to make the common mistake of thinking of these tools as sales channels. Too many people use them simply to try and sell/promote things.

So a classic mistake I see daily, is to post things on facebook pages and groups that promote your events that are not welcome. The British Judo association facebook page suffers from this regularly. People who never join any of the conversations blindly post an advert for something they want to promote; then leave.

They ignore the social convention of the community they have joined. It's as if you walked into a room full of people chatting about things and shouted "BUY MY PRODUCT!" then walked out.

Don't do it.

Get the tone right
Similarly to the "broadcast" idea in the earlier paragraphs; it's really important to understand the culture of the site you are using and post accordingly.

So on vine for example, you had better be funny and understand the memes that flow though day to day. On Facebook, you need to understand how things bubble up into peoples timelines. On Twitter you need to know that things flow by fast.

Which leads me to my Twitter and Facebook rules:

FACEBOOK is for moments, TWITTER is for news.
Facebook and Twitter are NOT the same; so don't treat them as such. Probably the biggest mistake I see day to day by organisations more so than individuals is forgetting this.

So, on Twitter, post as many news updates as you can. So for an athlete, a post saying you are about to go on for your first contest before hand. Then another immediately afterwards. See a great Ippon, tweet it right away.

On Facebook, don't share (and yes I have done it) a update that says "About to go on the mat" or "Jimmy down by wazari with 2 minutes to go!". Why? Because as people comment or like an update it will rise up on the timeline and suddenly the 2 minutes to go message is above the "Jimmy wins it by yuko in the end" post you make a little later.

It's much better just to post highlight than a barrage of news updates.

Your voice
This is the final and maybe most important section.

It's vital that when you use social media and social networking sites that once you understand the community norms, you understand yourself.

By this I mean that you need to be genuine and have your own voice. There is no value in being someone else, or trying to clone someone elses style.

Equally, you have the opportunity to share a voice you may not use elsewhere. And you can have more than one voice.

So for example, in one medium you might share that technical voice. On vine your funny side.

On this blog, I have shared my personal educational journey through an entire BSC. On I have posted more formal numbers based posts. On my personal site I share geeky non Judo stuff.

Dr Annmaria De Mars is a great example of this voice idea. She has two blogs; both are uniquely her voice. BUt both are different; one Judo, one Business. Like my blogs each is unique, but share attributes.

So in summary...
Know what the norms are for the sites you use and take the time to learn how you can fit in and contribute to the conversations.

Any questions, you can find me on all the usual social media and social networking sites as well as on email to

Let me know how you get on
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2013 A year of Judo 

Firstly, Happy Judo World Day!

It's a tad early I know, but as I think I am in the UK for the rest of the year I wanted to reflect on my year so far and consider how it affects who I am and what I do next year.

So this year, according to my little calendar I will have done the following:

1 x Run a kids Judo club.
1 x Run a adults/students Judo club.
1 x Took a team to BUCS championships.
2 x Hosted Hampshire Area mass randori.
1 x Hosted a Hampshire Kata session.
3 X Attended at least this many Hampshire Committee meetings.
1 x Hosted a Hampshire refereeing rules session.
1 x Host and maintain the Hampshire website
1 x Admin the unofficial BJA Facebook group
5 x Hampshire Team Championships (organiser).
1 x Hampshire Closed Championships (organiser)
1 x Hosted Hampshire Split Grade competition.
7 X IJF Competitions (IT Team, Live streaming)
4 x EJU Events (Incl. Kata championships, veterans and Glasgow EUropean Open of course).

So fairly busy.

I am particularly happy that I attended so many internationals of course. Attending both the Asian and European championships was amazing and of course the World Championships in Rio was the highlight of the year.

But call me sad, but I was even happier when a novice who joined my club after the Olympics last year won his first Gold Medal at the Hampshire Split Grade.

Keeping my small kids club open has been challenging and rewarding in equal doses.

For me, I consider coaching at the grassroots whilst working at the highest levels of my sport the biggest challenge and biggest plus I have as a coach. Running a small kids club in a small village is so far removed from the IJF events that I have a great perspective which spans across the full range of what Judo is.

I also attended the European Kata and European Veteran Championships this year. These are two passionate and committed communities that I am pleased to say have homes within the EJU. They also taught me a lot about the Judo world and about a broader spectrum of what Judo is.

This spectrum is great to see, as it helps me as a coach. Unlike many people who obsess over elite competition, I also teach kids and kata. And unlike many who run clubs, I see the highest level of our sport.

I attend local meetings and organise local events and I do the same at European and International level also.

One of my take-aways from this is that there are a lot of people who need to realise their place in the spectrum of Judo. How need to appreciate and be appreciated for the role they play.

Sadly, I see too many people who don't see their own value. Be that the parent who helps pickup mats at the end of a session (I love these people) or the table official who is there whenever they are asked. or the coach who covers a session as and when needed.

Even more sadly there are those that don't understand their position and think they are something they are not. Who do things that are not right for their position in the Judo community, in the Judo world.

I see coaches screaming at matside at little events; and trust me if the BJA gave it a license it's a "little event". There is no need for "super coach" behavior at events the BJA license... trust me!

Little events are not bad, they are the opposite. They are vital (in my opinion), they are where the majority of the participants in Judo. I genuinely think they get the short-end of the stick. I would love to see the BJA support them properly and those that run them.

I would mention that many of the people involved in them need to get both aspects into their heads. The reality of our situation is that we are a minority sport with low numbers compared to other sports. So we need to bootstrap back to the numbers we once had. We can't live in the past and keep doing things the same ways we did before.

The higher levels also need, I think, reminding that the grassroots are the lifeblood of the elite. The way our sport administers itself sometimes astounds me.

I live in the UK and the BJA is a mystery to me, and I suspect me to it. I run the unoffical BJA group on Facebook and it is fascinating to see how much bad feeling there is towards the BJA. Especially given that the BJA is a membership organisation and those people saying how little they think of it have all spent money to be members of that organisation... bizarre.

One of the reasons I wanted to write this post is because I am tired, so so tired. If you look at that list above you can see I have done quite a bit. And not all of it the fun exciting stuff. I have sat through meetings, read all the negative feedback from events I have run. I have moved more mats that I care to remember.

I am also a bit saddened as I am not doing any more international events this year.

But I am super happy, I have attended more events than I ever dreamed of attending. The Paris Grand Slam was and is amazing! Rio was incredible. In fact every event has been incredible. You don't know how much I love being involved with my sport at both local and international level.

And I feel it's important to express this as I want more people involved! I want people breaking out of their current situations and doing new and exciting things. I want them running clubs, events, competitions.

I want them growing Judo locally and I sincerely believe that I am the poster child for the more you give the more you get. I run my clubs and run local events and in return in some karmic way that pays for my attending the EJU and IJF events. It sounds a bit mystic, but I am being sincere, I do believe that running my small village kids club out of a school hall is one of the reasons I get to go to the EJU Kata Championships or all the way to Bangkok or Miami for competitions.

So I write this post for the person who loves Judo and wants it to be bigger, better. I worte this for the person who wants to go to the big events, to sit on a Bus with Illiadis who gets to meet Teddy Riner in person "backstage".

Please give your time to our amazing sport. If you are a parent, a player and coach an official. If you have a job skill try applying it to your Judo.

If you want to help me, or want me to help you, or want just a friendly word of support; please email me!

If I can help you do something I will try, if you offer your help to me I will say yes and try and appreciate you! If you just fancy chatting via email, then I love that.

What I ask is that you don't sit there reading this and do nothing. Do something, do anything. Make something happen, do it this week, not next week. Nobody will stop you, they may call you crazy or stupid, but when it works and a player comes to you and thanks you just for doing it; trust me you'll struggle not to shed a tear. I talk from experience here.

Be bold, give it a go, talk to you soon!

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