by Elie A. Morrell, Shichidan

Teaching Judo students An abundance of material is available that discusses the subject of teaching methods of various sports, including judo. Much of this material is usually found in texts on sports psychology. In these texts, teaching methods are just one of the disciplines that are covered as part of the psychology of coaching.

The goal of this paper is to highlight the key factors associated with the teaching of judo skills. In no way does it purport to present a comprehensive discussion of these skills.

Unfortunately, there exists no consistent agreement among educators, sports psychologists and coaches as to what defines the best methods of instruction. However, a few thoughts on this subject are presented in this paper.

Before any coach can expect to be effective, he must have what this writer calls a strong sports psychology triad. I define this as having a broad knowledge of judo skills, highly developed communication skills and the ability to motivate others.

A simple sequential approach to teaching the judo skills should include a discussion of the skill, a demonstration of the skill, a practice of the skill and a performance evaluation of the skill.


Discussion of the skill should as brief as possible. The language should be simple and consistent. The coach must be certain that the students are clear on both the english and japanese terminology. The coach should not always assume that the students understand the verbal instruction simply because no questions were asked. During the discussion the coach should occasionally ask if there are any questions. It is a known fact that many individuals are embarrassed to asked questions.

In discussing the skill, the coach should display self confidence and enthusiasm. The discussion should consider the overall age level of student group so that even the youngest members have no difficulty comprehending.

The discussion of the skill should only present a broad overlay of the skill. The specifics of the skill should be covered during the demonstration portion of the skill.


Of the four elements comprising the teaching of the total skill, the demonstration is extremely critical in terms of its accuracy of presentation. The demonstration must be as near to perfection as possible. The students are going to be expected to imitate what they visually perceive. A poorly executed technique by the coach must be repeated until it is correct.

The demonstration should be performed on both the right and left sides. Also, it should be performed several times while changing position on the mat to be certain that everyone has a clear view of the action.

Speed and accuracy make up the ultimate goal when executing the techniques. In the initial demonstration, the coach must put the emphasis on accuracy. This should be pointed out to the students prior to their practicing the skill.

Following the demonstration of the skill, the coach should address the significant points of the skill. For example, if a throwing technique has been demonstrated, significant points would include method of entry, use of hands/arms, leg action, and hip and body action, to name a few.

At some point during the demonstration of the skill phase, the coach must address the concept of motion. Student initial exposure to throwing skills are performed statically by the coach. This allows the students to learn the mechanics of the throwing skills more easily. The coach should only verbally indicate at this juncture that the static demonstration in no way represents what occurs when the throwing skill is attempted when two players are in motion. Throwing demonstrations by the coach while in motion should only be shown once the students have successfully mastered throwing from a static stance.

Once students have mastered the static throwing skills, the coach can then proceed with the demonstration of dynamic throwing skills. These demonstrations are far more complex in nature because of the variables that exist due to the introduction of motion. The key variables are the type of throw, the direction of motion and the position of the feet of the defender at the culmination of the throwing skill. The coach should formulate a series of moving drills for teaching dynamic throwing skills. Skill development cannot be achieved without the practice of moving drills!


When the students commence practice of the skill they should be carefully monitored by the coach. The entire skill should practiced . For example, if the skill involved is a throw, entry into the throw should not be practiced solely since this results in no skill development. If a student has difficulty making the entry into a throw, then the coach could isolate this segment and have the student practice it until it is correct. This teaching approach would also apply for any other difficulty that a student may be encountering when practicing the skill. In any event, the entire skill should be practiced unless problems are encountered by the students.

In some instances the coach should repeat the demonstration and/or the explanation of the skill, if required. Any errors made by a student should be corrected as soon as possible. Early correcting is much easier than trying to correct the same error after the student has consistently made the same error over a period of time.


Performance evaluation of the skill involves feedback by the coach. Without feedback to the student it would very difficult for the student to make any significant progress.As part of the performance evaluation of the skill, this writer believes that it should include positive reinforcement.

The coach should evaluate the performance of the student by noting what the student does compared to what should have been done. The coach should attempt to ascertain why the student is making the error. Once it is determined why the error is being made, the correction should follow accompanied by any advice the coach deems necessary. The coach must be careful not to give incorrect or ineffective advice. The coach should be succinct and avoid giving too much advice.

In the area of positive reinforcement the student can be the recipient of either intrinsic or extrinsic rewards. Intrinsic rewards can be in the form of compliments for genuine effort by a student regardless of the outcome and praise for the performance and not the outcome. Extrinsic rewards are tangible and are usually some sort of a gift generally related to the area of endeavor. They could include such items as pins, ribbons, medals, articles of clothing and money.

Any reward, whether intrinsic or extrinsic should only be given when they are earned. In addition, the students should be taught that the value of intrinsic rewards have far greater value than extrinsic rewards.

In summary, the coach should always encourage students to practice often and avoid becoming discouraged. Students often tend to lose interest in judo if success is not immediate. Unfortunately, this is the nature in parts of our society. A respected and knowledgeable coach knows how to handle students who become discouraged and lose interest otherwise, if not, it is safe to assume the loss of another student to our sport.