Monday, 7 February 2011

From coaching to competition

The FIDE Trainers website ( has a number of documents, including a definition of the classification system used. Interestingly part of the 'mission' for each of the levels (from Developmental Instructor upwards), contains a requirement to bring students to a competitive level. Implied in this definition (at least to my reading) is an obligation to move students into competitive chess. Of course this makes perfect sense, as their seems to be little point to teaching chess otherwise. Unless of course that chess isn't being taught as an end to itself, but as part of a broader educational discipline.
So I guess one could ask the question. Are you a 'real' coach if your students don't play competitively?


TrueFiendish said...

Has the coach failed if, rather than play competitively, the student chooses to play socially, to compose studies or problems, to write chess software, to branch out into other mind games or to do some coaching himself? I think not.

Libby said...

From a (physical) sports perspective, I could not have imagined children/young adults, attending training each week if they didn't want to pursue the game itself.

Even in physical sport, you can gain from exercise and basic skill-building but if children chose my sport for building that fitness and improving their skill I would always aim for it to lead to a love of the game/activity that can only be fully expressed as a competitor.

There are always different levels of competition - from bunny to elite - from social to representative. Not everyone will have the same goal or same capability. But if you train and train and train, and then never perform (in music) or play (in sports) then you seem to have developed a skill without becoming a participant.

A good coach should build skills and foster a love of their game (any game) that naturally inspires participation. In retirement (from sports coaching), I measure my real success in those I coached who have chosen to pursue the game as young adults & adults - whatever level they choose to play at.

If they can't wait to ditch the game (and never come back to it) as soon as they are old enough to drive their own decisions, you can have lifted them to the most elite level possible but you didn't make them a player.