When a fighter becomes successful and wins most of their bouts, many assume that it is solely the fighter themselves responsible for all their well-earned success.
No one usually considers their coach who has been with them from day one. Let’s face it; the fighter is the one getting in the ring and having to scrap it out.
But the coach also plays a huge role, if not a joint effort, as they teach and consistently improve the fighter with all their knowledge and skill. Furthermore, a coach is more a part of a fighter’s journey than just teaching them how to fight; they grow a bond where a coach knows everything about their fighter.
They’re a fighter’s support, teaching them many life skills far more significant than being in a ring. They teach discipline, motivation and encouragement, bringing a more positive life through combat sports.
Some people initially take up martial arts as they may be getting bullied, picked on, or need to develop personal control; martial arts will teach them what it takes to become self-confident individuals.
After years of training, the student may build enough courage to want or feel the need to fight competitively. This is when the fighter and coach would have made a great relationship.
The Fighter/Trainer Relationship
So, how could it go wrong? What do they bring to each other?
The fighter has continued to train at the same club putting revenue into the business. Giving the club a reputation for fighting on shows.
A club may offer a student free classes to help them prepare for a fight, Make sure they fight adequate opponents and give them their full support to help them prepare for a fight mentally.
Gareth Davies suggests: ‘But what is inescapably true is that the bond between trainer and fighter is deep, special and intimate. Trust is key. It can be as close as family. Trainers have been seen down the years as mentors, motivators, psychologists, friends, fathers, fight technicians or indeed, all of those things wrapped into one, and that is why the role of the trainer in the corner during fights, between rounds, is a vital one.’
A trainer’s role encompasses various duties, from conditioning and teaching boxing methods to creating a strategy and inspiring competitors between rounds. They occasionally need to play psychotherapists.
Many serve as role models for their warriors and father figures for children whose fathers are absent from the house. For most of them, it’s a labour of love, and few make any meaningful money.
What makes a Good Coach/Fighter Relationship?
A trainer sacrifices their time to mentor, prepare, and corner you during fight camp, weigh-ins, and the actual bout. They may sometimes be completely separated from their family while competing abroad. Although it may be part of their job description and what they agreed to, they are still investing time in you. All difficulties are worth the effort when both parties show affection for one another.
Your trainer or coach sees every drop of sweat, every second of training, and every competition, so they are exposed to you at your weakest when you are drained and grabbing for the last of your energy. They respond to your temper tantrums by appropriately motivating you. They accompany you at every turn. As a result, many athletes blame their trainers for their accomplishments or shortcomings.
When to push you, when to back off, and how to coach you to perform at your best are all decisions made by your trainer. Your trainer or coach is ineffective if you are reading this and cannot concur. Find your fit because there is no one size fits all. Athletes and trainers will interact in different ways.
Athletes must feel comfortable entrusting their career to their trainer, whether as an amateur or a professional.
You can have faith that they will prioritise your health for the duration of your athletic career. Trust that there is a method to their madness, even if you can’t see it just yet, and trust that they would never have let you enter the ring if they did not think you were up to the challenge.
You must believe that your coach or trainer is pursuing your professional development in the most effective way possible.
Similarly, when absent, your coach or trainer must have complete faith in you to ensure that you perform the appropriate tasks with the proper intensity. The best coaches guide you without holding your hand. When your trainer is present, you can deliver 150 percent if you can give 110 percent when they are not. This results in accomplishing collective goals.
Respect must be shown! Recognize that your trainer’s decisions are made for your benefit, not their own, and respect them. You must respect your trainer or coach. They are not superior, but they can see the broader picture and sometimes things obscured by our emotions, exhaustion, or preconceived beliefs.
I never argue with my trainers or instructors, just as I wouldn’t with my parents. Once more, if you have the correct coach, their goals will help you advance your career and skill set. So you merely comply when asked to do something since it is for your good.
An open channel of communication is crucial; being able to express your thoughts, worries, ambitions, and disappointments honestly and freely is essential to creating this strong bond.
Are you dependable and trustworthy? My trainers and I are each other’s best resources. Your trainer is more than just a coach; they are also a mentor, an advisor, a therapist, and the bad and good guy. They do not mind readers, so stop being shy and start talking to them.
The capacity to listen is just as crucial for effective communication as the capacity to speak. Unfortunately, most individuals listen in life to respond rather than listen with the intention of understanding.
The Science Behind Coaching
Getting to know each other
Any new relationship must start with many questions and conversations to get to know each other.
This is where the preliminary evaluation is helpful. The coach and fighter will meet privately to go through every detail of your instruction. Setting the connection up for success will need to show them examples of your coaching style and personality.
Be fully involved.
Give them concrete instances of situations they can identify with and assure them that you are entirely committed to supporting them while they pursue their objectives.
Ask open-ended personal questions to understand better their perspective on the future and their motivation for entering a dispute with another person.
Some fighters enjoy engaging in combat, while others are former sportspeople who wish to continue competing at the top level. Some people practise what they know how to do because they have nothing else going for them. The most crucial part of your training may be figuring out how to get them to perform at their best.
Training and coaching are an art. When working with fighters, it’s essential to comprehend their skills and motivations.
You need to know them personally and understand why they do what they do and where they are coming from. Ask many questions and get in-depth about where their head is during practice and competition.
Continuous feedback from the athlete is crucial since it will give you a detailed picture of how they respond and think in each situation. Find out what motivates individuals to train and improve, including their wants and requirements.
Celebrated trainer Ray Arcel told Fried, puts this complexity in one sentence:
“I’ll tell you something about trainers, and that includes me… You’re only as good as the fighter you work with. I don’t care how much you know; if your fighter can’t fight, you’re just another bum in the park.”
Or, as Dundee put it, “If the guy on the stool can’t fight, you’re in all kinds of trouble.”
For more information about fighter and coach relationships, check out the video below: