How A Coach’s Words Can Transform Ones Mindset

A few weeks ago I was teaching a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class. After a 15 minute warm up I gathered the class around to go over a technique. One of the student’s kept asking for assistance. After showing the technique a few times to him he still didn’t understand how to perform it. Feeling a little sheepish he asked me again if I could show him. Slowly I re-explained the technique to him in great detail.

Embarrassed, he turned to apologize to me, “I’m sorry professor, I don’t pick up things as quickly as other people.” Professor by the way is a how you address the teacher in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Apparently it translates to teacher in Portuguese. In other words, it’s the equivalent of saying sensei in karate.

Sensing his lack of confidence, I assured him it was no problem. I was more than happy to demonstrate the technique over again until he understood. That day I drove home thinking about how I could go about my teaching in a different way to help others struggling to learn.

Everyone has a different way of learning. Some people are visual, some are auditory, others are tactile. I also had to analyze the student’s strengths and help them work towards these areas. A one size fits all does not work in my opinion.

I’ve always had a soft spot for students who are struggling to learn. My father was not the most patient person when it came to teaching. He would show you once and if you didn’t get it you don’t bother asking him again. Unless you were ready to get a tongue lashing. I always promised myself I would never treat anyone like that when I became a coach.

So I thought about this overnight, wondering what I can do to help my student reach his full potential. The next afternoon, I called him over for a little pep talk. I mentioned to him that he was using a lot of negative self-talk such as I can’t or I will never be. Together we decided to work on his mindset and strengths. He will no longer use the words, “I am trying.” Instead it will be “I am in the process of.”

I also said that he does not need to feel sheepish asking me questions. I explained that what he was doing will help him grow both in the art and in life. His willingness to fail, try new things, and not worry about failure is the key to his long term success.

Armed with this knowledge and a game plan we went to work in the following weeks. After a week since our talk I noticed a significant improvement in his confidence, work ethic, and his skills. Most notably his peers noticed it as well.

It’s amazing how some encouraging words and a change in mindset can do wonders for an individual. The martial arts has taught me so many life lessons which have been applicable to competing and in my coaching practice. I owe so much to the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for helping others discover their greatness. It has also taught me a lot about the practice of self-awareness.

Always remember to make everybody feel like a somebody. Be that someone who inspires others not one who tears down their self-worth. It can make a world of difference to their life.

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