Being a coach is often more difficult than being a competitor. You have to communicate your advice in a manner that will be heard and well received. You’ll have to have more control over your own reactions than your student will need to have over their fear or adrenaline—you can’t shout angrily or incoherently. That’s bad coaching and doesn’t help anyone, let alone the person you are dedicated to providing assistance to.

To help you be a better coach at a BJJ tournament or grappling competition, we’ve collected the highlights of good coaching behavior of what we see at our events and have included them below.

Learn the Tournament’s Rules

Not all tournaments have the same rules as each other and these rules may be far different from the ones you practice at your gym or school. Learn the rules of the particular tournament as well as your own and instruct your team. Develop a strategy based on these rules for each of your participants to earn the most amount of points while avoiding penalties or even disqualification from not knowing the rules well enough. Practice, practice, practice until the rules become second nature to your students.

Go To The Tournament

It is hard to coach from the sideline s let alone form home or the gym. In order to provide the utmost coaching, you’ll need to be there for your student during the times they need you the most—at the tournament.

Help Your Student Warm Up and Chill out

Run some simple drills to warm up muscles and prevent injury. Get them pumped up and remind them of the skills to harness the adrenaline boost that is coming. Once the match is over, you’ll need to help bring them down from that adrenaline jump and help them prepare for their next match.


As a coach on the sidelines, you are able to see the fight as a whole. You can see what the other competitor may be attempting before your student does or you may see a mistake your student is about to make. Although you can’t communicate telepathically, there are ways to get your point across to your student. Use codewords to quickly and efficiently get your point across without giving away your coaching trade secrets. “Now”, “Go”, Heavy”, “Pullback”, “Up-it”, “Right” are simple one to two syllable words that can mean whatever you like and not get mixed up with other words—or let the opponent know what is coming.

Accept Responsibility

Coaches are quick to say that they taught their student everything they know when the student is achieving great success. But if they are performing based on everything you taught them, keep in mind that this also includes any mistakes they make that may or may not have cost them a win. Share the blame, and quickly move one (and encourage your student to do the same)—to learning better techniques to avoid such mistakes in the future.

Coaching can be exhilarating and can make the difference for your student than without you. Do what you can to enhance your students performance and help them to achieve their goals and dreams.