Laying The Foundations: Creating A Rolling Yearly Plan

I like the strategic planning idea of working backwards. Deciding what is wanted and then working backwards from having it as to work out what will be required to get there. With the less experienced players that I coach (kids and recreational seniors) I actually think of what they would need to be world class level fighters, albeit not all of them will choose that route but it’s what I consider when planning the content for lessons. So, especially with the kids section that I run which comprises of 3 classes ranging from five to eleven year olds, I think about what will give them the best base for understanding fighting Judo; which basic throws, what basic groundwork, which directions, what basic gymnastic ability, understanding of basic grip fighting and tactics, attitudes etc. The players will move up to work with Camberley’s cadet (under seventeen years) coach, Vince Skillcorn, after me, then on to senior coach, Luke. I’ve always thought mostly about what the players will need for moving up, what ability and what understanding, so that they can get the best out of their next coach and their next stage of development.

I sat down a while back and really thought about everything that I would like a younger player to be able to do, know and understand on the day that they move up to the next class or to the next section of the club, taking into consideration all of the previously desired attributes, requirements for gradings, newcomers and their own research. I wrote everything down and over the course of a couple of months built a rolling one year plan for each of the classes that I lead, with the content changing each calendar month. From previous observations I find a month is enough time to grasp what is being taught but not too long for boredom to kick in. I only structure the learning content, not the full sessions as it’s important to be reactive to the players as well, if they are rowdy and full of energy then we’ll have more randori (sparring), the same too if they’ve really got everything learnt well by the forth week of the month. I set out clear learning objectives for each month and as long as we get that done and they work well we can have the odd game if they’re good (certainly not if they’re not!) and practice contests as well as lots of randori. I find overly structuring it can have the opposite of the desired effect and the session ends up being a bit strangled. This is the first year that I am trialing this system and all has been going well so far, up until the Covid-19 closure anyway. The basics in Judo will largely always remain the same, I certainly don’t know them all and am still learning so I am staying open to amendments to the plan as we go along. I am however, very happy with how everything has been working out so far. I am looking forward to getting back on the mat and seeing how we progress when it is safe for us all to do so.