The Development Of Beginner Judo Players

The Development Of Beginner Judo Players

For this post, I will be covering beginner development. 

Patience is key when it comes to many things in life - the same goes for Judo! We cannot forget that Judo has many difficult positions and movements so we as coaches must be patient! We must also be diligent when we teach and demonstrate techniques so our students have all of the tools needed to do it themselves. We also must be disciplined when it comes to holding our students to the proper standard while practicing patience. Your students' progress will vary but if you are diligent your students will eventually be successful.

My warmup drills always include:

  1. Ukemi - if ukemi is not done correctly, take the time to practice longer.
  2. Ashi-Waza - continue to stress the importance of posture and foot position. 
  3. One Legged Hops - hopping on one foot in different directions helps with balance, agility coordination and strength. 
  4. Uchikomi - we will now be including uchikomi in our daily practice.

Beginner Development

When students are first starting their Judo journey, your classes must start and end with discipline. Your focus is on your students for the entire class, no exceptions. It is easy for us to get distracted by phones and casual conversations but we must make a conscious effort to avoid this. Some other factors that are important to running a disciplined class are starting class on time, having students line up by rank, a quiet dojo when you start/stop practice, are some examples of running a disciplined dojo. Like mentioned before, if the student needs to be told to make corrections, then do it! Don’t be shy! For new students or students that are not yet able to complete the exercise allowance should be made. When you take the time to demand excellence, the student will respond and develop good habits that will last.

Athlete Encouragement

Athlete encouragement is critical in terms of development. Athlete encouragement is praising and motivating your students to continue to strive for excellence. Judo takes years to learn, and you must be patient with yielding results as I stated earlier. Rewarding effort over results is a great way to motivate your entire class. The judoka who are struggling to develop techniques and are slow to develop their judo coordination will have the same drive to work as hard as the judoka who adapt much easier. Your students know that your “approval” will be based on their effort and willingness to learn. A few ways you can reward the hard workers in the class is to have the chosen judoka lead the warmups or do the beginning and ending bow. As you single students out they will respond with the desire to be chosen by you. This is how you begin to develop a good work ethic.

My next call will be this Sunday, July 16th at 12:00pm EST!

Technique Development will be the topic of the call but as always, I will be open to questions and other topics as well. We will be adding video examples on how to develop a technique and what the end product should look like. 

It is my hope as Head Coach at the American Judo System that we can bring coaches together from all levels, dojos and the country and give you access to the knowledge we have. Our team is full of coaches who are eager to grow the sport from the Basic Level to the Elite Level. We are also unique in the fact that Jimmy Pedro and I, have experience in coaching all the areas aforementioned (Day One to Olympic Podium) and we are excited to share our experience and systems with you. I also hope that you will share your knowledge and experience with us because if we are going to grow Judo we must work together!

Thank you for your time and I look forward to working with you! 

See you on the tatami! 

Steve Cohen

US Olympian & US Olympic Coach

Head Coach, American Judo System

P.S. Please email me at with any questions, comments, or topics you may want me to cover.

About Steve Cohen

Steve Cohen has been doing judo for over 60 years. Starting judo at the age of 5, Steve had a long successful competitive career ending in 1988 at the Seoul, Korea Olympics. Steve along with his brother, Irwin ran a successful judo program in Illinois producing the first Olympic Silver Medalist and first Junior World Champion for the United States. They also had many athletes on Pan American Games Teams, World Teams, and Olympic Teams. Throughout the years they ran local, regional, and national tournaments. Every Summer, they held a camp where the best youth and junior judo athletes in the country would come to learn and develop, and the best senior judo athletes would attend, teach, and train. Many of those young athletes that attended went on to great success as competitors. Steve became the National Coach for the United States in the 1990’s becoming the Head Junior National Coach for 4 years and following that became the Head Senior National Coach which included being named the Head Coach for the 2000 US Olympic Team. Steve is still active in coaching and developing athletes out of Illinois and works with athletes all over the country.

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