I am often asked in some what or another what my ethos around coaching is or what are some of the philosophies I have around coaching Judo so I thought I would take the opportunity to bullet point a few of them below

– Make good people first, good judoka second. I am very proud of the culture we have in our club and the people associated with my team. A number of my great players no longer do Judo but it was the launch pad for them to chase their passion in other areas. I also encourage my Judoka to have goals, hobbies, interests outside of Judo where they can draw upon success.

– We set BIG goals but we also outline the cost. The goal isn’t to just ‘go to the Olympics’ or ‘go to the Commonwealth Games’ but to ‘place Top 7 at the Olympics’ or ‘Win the Commonwealth Games’. With these goals comes a big commitment and our Judoka are made aware of the cost.

– We bow on in a line at the start to show rank but bow off in a circle at the end. We started doing this informally but for me it now symbolises that no one is above anyone else once we’ve gone through the same session together. Something I picked up from Matt D’Aquino who relayed a story of them doing this in Nepal.

– We use an immersion style of coaching in that beginners train with everyone else but at a scaled intensity. This method allows me to develop there skills a lot faster but also allows my athletes to develop there coaching skills when working with the beginners. It also allows new members to feel part of the team/culture sooner.

– We apply Paretos principal and focus our energy on the 20% of Judo which gets us 80% of our results. Posture, Movement/Gymnastics, Grips, Throws, Ground Work. Other elements (breakfalls, kata, terminology, historical information) we save moreso for gradings and/or those athletes who show interest in it.

– We are New Zealanders doing a Japanese Martial Art, we should not attempt to simulate the ‘Japanese system’ we need to take elements from it and apply them to best practices for New Zealand population. By this token, my lesson plans are more similar to the dutch, French and Brazilian systems where variety within a common goal is the key.

We respect the culture and history of Judo but this doesn’t dictate our training methodology/we don’t get bogged down in Dogma. Why Judo is so effective is that it is a martial art that continues to evolve and because of this our training efforts must also evolve also. I am happy to share our training methodology if there is any interest in it.

– Once a competition has finished we only focus on the controllables. I am a very passionate coach and while I do debate calls on the day of competition (as any good coach should ;p ) I leave it on the mat and focus on the elements that we can control in player development. Blaming external factors (refs call, sickness, weight cut) might save ego but they don’t allow people do develop. I prefer my guys have an internal locus of control.

– I believe in all my players. No matter what the odds/opponent. This was the core ethos for my wife Moira and I when competing overseas no matter who the opponent the thought process was the same and the belief was there. This allowed us to get a number of big wins/results that could be considered ‘upsets’.

If the result doesn’t go our way I still tell my players with 100% sincerity that I’d still choose them over their opponents.

– Every player in my club is valued the same. I give the same amount of attention to the White Belt beginner as I do to my NZ squad members. Conversely, people teach you how to treat them so naturally, if someone is turning up 3-5x a week, is a great team player and helps everyone else naturally they’ll get more support from me and the rest of the team.

– I encourage my players to cross train and also train elsewhere/export themselves overseas and listen to other coaches opinions, this goes long term towards holistically development. They may gain 5% from another coach which I couldn’t have given them or conversely they may disagree with the other coach however it is a better lifeskill to learn to critically examine information as oppose to just believe everything they hear/see.

Moreover, I know my coaching/class isn’t for everyone and if they find themselves better suited in an alternate class it keeps them in Judo which is more important.

– I don’t get involved in ‘Judo politics’ or the unfortunate tall poppy which pops up at I do try and shield my players from this were possible (things do naturally boil over from time to time!). It’s a real shame that there are people out there from previous generations seem to enjoy seeing our Judoka preform poorly as oppose to supporting them. As Rob Waddell put it best ‘The older I get the better I was’

My job is to make the next generation BETTER. I get thrown more in training now that I ever had and for me this is a good thing, it means we’re doing something right.

– Always better! I encourage my players to celebrate their results, something I personally didn’t do enough, however the next day we’re on the mat we start to work towards improving on the results and our next goal/challenge.


Like any good coach my opinion is always changed and I am always looking for ways to improve.

As per my last point “always better”

Categories: Judo


Bryan Russell · May 9, 2018 at 6:41 am

Nice article Mr Koster.

brusselljitz · May 10, 2018 at 5:56 pm

Very well put Mr Koster

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