By Rhadi Ferguson

As an elite Judo instructor I must say that our jobs are somewhat easier than the jobs that many of you have. Honestly, the athletes which most of the top notch coaches train have a decent amount of mat savvy and a high level of skill already. But such is not the case for most of the judo community.

Daily many of you must deal with the issues is enrollment, management, and of course, instructing. As a current or new coach I would like offer you some tips, tricks and things that I've learned over the years that have helped me and that may help you too.

Most of the time in the teaching profession, teachers show up to class with a textbook, they are often times handed a syllabus or guide or other type of learning a teaching materials. For judo coaches, we really don't have this leisure. More often than not, we teach what it is that we were taught, and we teach a system that often times hasn't been researched, studied or proven beyond the realm of anecdotal preference.

What you must remember above all things is that your job and task is to issue information in a clear fashion so that it can be best received by your students. In order to facilitate in your accomplishment of this, I would like to offer you one of the tools that I use when I'm teaching or doing clinics. I use an instruction checklist.

This checklist will enable you to structure and form your curriculum or lesson plans. Go down this list about an hour or two before every class or go over this checklist after you've developed your lesson plan for class. (I'm assuming that you are developing lesson plans for class and working from a curriculum. I'll make sure you know why this is important in the next issue.)

The Judo Instructors Instruction Checklist:

1. Is the dojo prepared? Are all the tools and equipment arranged in order to promote learning. Is the environment conducive to what I intend to teach?

2. Do I have a plan for getting the students settled?

3. Do I have a transitional opening to link the last training session to this class?

4. Have I planned to allow each student to participate at an appropriate level of learning?

5. Have I planned for the appropriate level of desired affect?

6. Have I planned for questioning from the students?

7. Have I planed for relevance? Do I have some real-competitive experiences to share?

8. Have I thought about the adjustment that I may have to make for males, females, heavyweights, lightweights, tall students, short students?

9. What is my plan for grouping the students?

10. How will I involve special students in this lesson? (this is relevant in many dojos)

11. How will the students "test" or be tested on this current lesson? Randori? Specific training? A line of questioning? Film sessions?

These questions and many more are what I use each and every time that I do seminar or when I'm teaching on the mat. It is important to do and to make sure that you know what it is that you are going to do.

Your checklist will ensure that your instruction is streamlined and that you are hitting on all cylinders. Remember, in order for your students to learn, YOU have to teach. If you have any questions on curriculum development or if you would like more information on how you can better instruct your students you can email me at

Rhadi Ferguson is a 2004 Olympian and a four-time National Champion in the sport of judo. He is also a World Class Strength and Conditioning Coach and has trained world class Mixed Martial Artists,Olympians, NFL Players and Track and Field athletes. You may visit his website at and pick up a Free Report and mp3 files on Coaching Success Secrets