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Dr. De Mars on make or take. 

Dr. AnnMaria De Mars over at has written an excellent post titled "Do You Want to Make Players or Take Them?" which is all about the difference between coaches who want to "grow" players from newbies and those who want the "elite".

It is a great article, go read it.
If you don't know AnnMaria won the 1984 world championships and is heavily involved in the Judo scene, not only through her role within Judo in the USA, but also via and her own section on and as if that is not enough, she is parent and coach to Ronda Rousey who this year alone has won gold at the following events:
2007 British Open, London, England
2007 World Cup Vienna, Vienna, Austria
2007 US Sr. National Championships, Miami, Florida
2007 Pan Am Games, Rio de Janerio, Brazil
2007 US Open, Atlanta, Georgia
2007 Finnish Open, Vaantaa, Finland

I too have seen those people who just want the cream of the crop and don't want to "waste their coaching" on kids. It is, I think, partially a natural desire to work with elite players and part culture and part other issues.

I too dream of sitting matside as my player throws their opponent for Ippon in an Olympic Final, I'd like to coach a mat full of the best talent in the area/nation/world.
And that is great and all good, what is not however, is if you don't want anything to do with grassroots, kids!

I'm not saying those few coaches who are coaching the elite should stop and start a kids class. But I hope that as with the example of Chuck Jefferson in the post those coaches would happily give as much effort and benefit to a group of six year old beginners.

My concern most of the time is that there is a cultural bias within Judo organisations against the grassroots, against kids coaching, against recreational Judo. This, despite kids and non elite players being the lifeblood of Judo.

Too often we get a two-faced response from Judo organisations. There is acknowledgement of the importance of kids/club Judo, yet all the time and resources (including money) goes into the elite programme.

Sure medals means funding and prestige and that equals resources for the masses. And, it's a sport and we all want to see gold for our nations, clubs, etc. I don't want to sound like I want to kill off elite Judo.

Thats said, at what point does there become an imbalance? At what point should a governing body say "Hey instead of pouring money into the top 1%, lets pour it into kids?" Instead of paying the best coaches to coaches the elite players how about paying the best coaches to coach kids?

Again, why is it that all the coaching systems I have seen, they are about going "up" to elite level coaching? I am a EJU Level 4 coach, I have spent the last 3 years studying coaching at elite level. Not a single session on kids Judo. Like I say, that's good, I want to help people "seek the heights" as was the motto of my high school.
But is that indicative of the problem? The "low level" coaching awards are basically about coaching kids, the high levels about coaching elite players (in theory). Maybe that should be tipped on it's head? Highest level for the shortest players?

Or better yet, a coaching system that encourages/awards coaching at elite player level, recreational player and kids levels. I'd love to see the day when a country's highest coach is solely involved in coaching kids entering the sport.

But... I am not going to hold my breath.

Thanks again to AnnMaria De Mars for continuing her terrific blog!


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