Sunday, September 14, 2014

Coaching This Week

There are posters in the gym that were up on the walls long before I was hired as a coach.  However, I needed to add some more pictures to the available bulletin boards.  I used to keep my old copies of The Ring magazine, but one of the last times I did a cleaning purge, I threw most of them out.  A few of the ones I kept as collectors' items I did not cut up.  But I did cut up the most recent copies I had for the gym's bulletin boards.  The Ring does feature stories about female fighters these days, but I was a bit miffed that I didn't have enough photos of female fighters to post.  One of my goals is to attract a number of girls to take up boxing.  It would be nice if they could see plenty of pictures of other women in the sport.  I still have to look among my stuff to see if I have any more boxing pictures.

I found out that I have to turn in a lesson plan.  I've been working on that for the last month.  The goal is to get across that conditioning is just as important as knowing how to throw punches.  I want to cut down on the "all I have to do is spar" thinking that I've witnessed out of people in other gyms.  In fact, I'm only allowing sparring to happen once a week, and that aspect of the training will not begin until next month.

I have a handout for parents which is on the staff computer at the field house.  It explains what amateur boxing is and what it isn't.  Most of the parents who have expressed a desire for their kids to be in the class are okay with their kids being in the sport.  The handout is more for parents who may uneasy with their kids wanting to box.

There's still not much equipment on hand for the kids who will start in the gym this week; more will come in eventually.  Luckily, boxing is not one of those sports that require a lot of equipment to get started.  There will be a big emphasis on shadow boxing and floor exercises for awhile.

I keep thinking about how I want the kids to address me.  "Coach" or my first name (or a combination) will be fine.  But I rather not be known as "Miss Hillari".  Makes me sound like some old schoolmarm in the Old West. I didn't mind when kids at the church where I used to attend called me that, but it doesn't sound right for the gym.

Speaking of church, I did try out a new one today.  If you've been following this blog for awhile, you know some of the difficulties I had at the church where I used to be a member (and from what I keep hearing, not much has changed).  It's been a little over a year since I attended regular services.  Afterwards, I had coffee with other newcomers to the church, a church member, and the pastor and his wife.  People were asked what they did for a living.  Everyone went wide-eyed when I told them I coach boxing.  "We would have never guessed that!" people said.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Thoughts About Being A Boxing Coach

Now that I'm the person running a gym as opposed to being a patron and volunteer, it has occurred to me that coaches need support as much as fighters do.  These are my opinions.  Feel free to comment and add other tips. 

1.  Hang out with other coaches.  I still call on Alan at Loyola Park, and keep in contact with Steve, who was the coach there before him.  I'm friendly with several Chicago Park District boxing coaches (Bill, Jack, George, Rodney, etc.), and I know a professional boxing coach (Fernando).  They can offer advice on how to handle different situations, share training techniques, as well as be sympathetic sounding boards when people need to vent. 

2.  Don't forget about others in the fight game.  Promoters, referees, fight doctors, timekeepers, managers, etc.  They are also good sources for advice and information.

3. Family and friends.  I've chronicled my late parents, my stepmother, my late younger sister, and some of my friends' negative reactions to me being involved in boxing.  But I have some cheerleaders.  Always be appreciative of whatever support is gained from this group and let them know what's going on.

4.  Books and DVD.  In an recent post, I mentioned that I've been reviewing some boxing books in my library to get ideas about how to help the fighters I'll be training.  There are also helpful DVDs available about boxing, in addition to other connected subjects such as strength training and nutrition.

5.  Prayer and meditation.  Don't laugh; it works.  Some days in the gym can be tough, and some people's personalities can be trying.  Pray, read your religious texts (Bible, Torah, Koran, I-Ching, etc.), meditate 15 to 20 minutes a day, take deep breaths, chant, count to ten, whatever it takes to remain centered and keep cool. 

6.  Exercise.  I remember Steve telling me that it's hard for a coach to get a workout in because they are helping others.  This is true.  If possible, get a workout in before anyone else gets to the gym.  If there is time at the end, do a workout then.  Otherwise, plan another time, but don't neglect the workout.  I think it's very helpful for a boxing coach to stay fresh on their skills because it helps when training others how to fight. 

7.  Be helpful to co-workers.  This is especially applicable if a boxing coach is an employee in a municipal park district (like me), or employed by a health club franchise.  Just the other day, a kid came up to the front desk and said the basketball gym floor was wet.  I could have just reported it to the attendants, but they were busy doing other tasks.  Instead, I went and got a mop.  I've learned a long time ago that always having a "that's not my job" attitude doesn't fly in any type of workplace.  The benefits of having a team attitude is that one needs help, it will be reciprocated. 

8.  Work in cooperation with parents.  The pastor of the church I used to attend didn't think that it was important to partner with parents in helping to make the youth ministry successful.   I never understood the pastor's line of thinking.  In my opinion, the youth ministry was not successful partially because of that.  If a boxing coach is training youths, they have to have good communication with the youths' parents and guardians and encourage them to be involved.  Parents should not be shut out of the process. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Referring To The Boxing Library

There will not be an adult boxing program at LaFollette Park at this time.  The gym will be open for kids and teens beginning September 16th.  I was told that an adult class will be added later on. That changes my lesson plan a little, but the adjustments aren't major.

I might have a volunteer to help in the gym soon.  A young man introduced himself to me the other day and explained that he was eager to work with the kids.  The young man had fought in the Golden Gloves.  The field house supervisor printed out a volunteer form for him.  "It might take a couple of weeks or more to approve, but turn it in as soon as you can," I told him.

In the meantime, I've been talking to the kids who hang around the field house and the park about the upcoming boxing class.  All I have to do is walk around with my battered bag gloves and my hands wraps on, and the kids start asking questions.  Turns out that quite a few kids are interested.  But a lot of kids have a lot of other after-school activities going on, too.  I'll have flyers soon so I can do more recruiting.

The second group of people I need to reach out to are the kids' parents and guardians.   I already know that some parents/guardians -- regardless of how much interest their kids show -- are not going to be too keen about giving permission to the kids to box.  The very nature of boxing as a tough, rough sport means that I have to assure parents and guardians that their kids will be safe and looked after.

The boys are interested, but I'd like to see girls sign up as well.  Seldom would I see any girls under age 12 in the boxing classes at other park district gyms.  Not many teenage girls were in the boxing classes, either. Even if they never spar and/or compete (and this goes for the boys, too), I'd like to show the girls that boxing is a good workout.

I had to go through my storage bins to find my boxing books.  I don't know why I packed most of them away, but they are back in my bookcases.  I'm going to be re-reading most of them so I can get more ideas to use with the youths.