3 Major Mistakes I Made as a Boxing Trainer


A coach is someone who wears several different hats. Someone who is an expert, a motivator, a counselor, a friend, and a teacher. The coach has to have integrity and be trustworthy. The coach also has to have patience, know how to read people, and communicate effectively. A coach has to prepare his lessons and adjust accordingly when things do not go as planned. I have had some crappy coaches in my day. Coaches who possessed many, some, or absolutely none of the above listed attributes. When I began coaching, I vowed not to be "that guy" who treated his students like trash. Little did I know, I had a LOT to learn. You know what they say, "Experience is the best teacher." That is so true when it comes to becoming a great coach. In fifteen years of mentoring boxers, I have taught many, but in reality, many of whom I have coached have taught me so much. Here are the three major mistakes I made when I became a boxing trainer. BARKED ORDERS When I began combat sports, I vividly remember my coaches/instructors barking orders like drill sergeants. It was a very militaristic atmosphere. We had to be on time, line up, look sharp, and address the coaches/instructors as sir or coach. We were pushed to the max with grueling workouts and had to be mentally tough. I was very grateful for the discipline, structure, and work ethic that was instilled in me. Most of all, the "fighter's mentality" they instilled in me. That mindset and work ethic is what I tried to instill in my boxers. I thought I had to act like Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from the movie Full Metal Jacket. I barked orders and expected nothing but their best. But something unexpected happened. People did not respond to the way I was coaching.

I took a step back and received a piece of humble pie. I realized I was a twenty something year old kid treating men, women, and children like a drill instructor on a constant basis. I realized that approach did not work. I knew I had to change my coaching style and do it fast. TREATED EVERYONE "EQUALLY" I did not care if a boxer I coached was a college student or a dad with three kids. If someone wanted to box, I was going to treat him or her like a fighter. Their goals were not important to me. I did not care if mom wanted to lose weight or the bullied kid just wanted to learn how to defend himself. I nitpicked everyone on technique, I made everyone do the same drills, and kept up the same intensity. I learned pretty fast that not everyone should be treated "equally." I WANTED FIGHTERS When I first started coaching, I anticipated getting nothing but competitive boxers. I was ready to build a huge team and go to weekend tournaments with all of the weight classes filled. I wanted everyone to get sparring gear and go round after round in the ring. If you did not get sparring gear, oh well. You just went to the corner and hit the heavy bag by yourself. Little did I know, the sweet science was not strictly for people who wanted to compete. LESSONS LEARNED In life, you have to adapt. You cannot be so stringent or set in your ways all of the time. Open mindedness has to be in your vocabulary. If not, life is going to be rough. That is a major lesson I learned and applied to my coaching today. Not everyone wants to be a fighter. Some have natural athletic ability and some need extra attention. Some want to learn technique and get in shape while others want to be the next amateur national champion. Some need to be pushed to the max and some need to be eased into the sport. I simply had to listen to the people I served. I had to care about them first and boxing second. Boxers are a special type of athlete. Their wants and needs are different. All I had to do was figure that out...


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