While speaking to the coaching team the other day, I had to formalise my ideas on how working with other coaches should be done, to show respect and cohesion between different coaches with different styles and experience.
Having coached with the other black belts on this blog, we have an informal system of working together that works well for us. This is my view on the process and etiquette.
First and foremost, one coach is responsible for the class. It is their class, and what they say goes. When it comes to the plan for the class, they will set this. If there is remuneration involved, this is the coach being paid for the class. They are the lead on everything in this class, including the responsibility for everyone’s safety.
Note that this may not necessarily be the highest graded coach in Jiu Jitsu, but even if it is a blue belt running a class with black belt students, it is still their class to run and control as they see fit, and they accord the associated respect.
On the same note, if a coach is rostered on to teach a class, the class is theirs to teach, and it should not be taken over by a higher graded coach who happens to be there, unless the rostered coach wants them to.
If the coach running the class has the time and inclination in the class, they may invite others to share their own ideas on a position, or a solution to the problem at hand. They may not do this if they have time constraints, or have a particular path they are building to, and don’t want to be distracted on a tangent. Note that they are inviting this input, not having someone in the class saying “That’s wrong”, or “That’s not how I do it”, or detailing technique without prompting.
A prime example of collaboration is a workshop style class with multiple coaches. There will be a theme and one coach will lead the class, but typically at the conclusion of each technique, they may invite others to contribute their variations on the technique, or alternate solutions to the problem at hand.
A typical example of delegation, is having a small number of students in the class without a basic skill, and the lead coach may delegate another coach to take them aside to teach them the skill independent of the other students, so as to not hold the students with the skill back.
In the case of delegation, the lead coach has given the task to another coach so they can fully focus on the other students. If the lead coach has the trust in the other coach to delegate the task to the coach, they should allow them to teach their own way, and not to manage the other coaches process of teaching.
Some times when I’m in a class run by the other coaches, and there is a point or technique that I think is particularly relevant, but the coach is not inviting input, I will wait until a quiet period when the class is working on technique, and then quietly put my idea to the lead coach. If they reject my idea, then it is not for me to push to have it accepted, it is up to me to accept their decision and let them run their class in their own manner. Conversely, I have also been asked to mention the point or to demonstrate the technique at the next opportunity.
If I see another coach doing something I think needs correction or feedback, I would typically wait until after the class to go through in detail what I thought the issues were and discuss it with the coach. The exception to this, would be if what I saw was unsafe for the participants, in this case I would work to address the issue immediately.
One exception I can think of to this is coaching the coach. When students start their coaching career, they need feedback to grow and improve as a coach. The junior coach should have a plan for the class that we would discuss in advance, then we would typically talk through particular corrections or feedback in a quiet period, or after the class.