Get in the Zone (of Proximal Development) in Your Coaching

The community aspect of athletic activity is important for multiple reasons. Our sports communities provide support, reality checks, and useful information about appropriate behavior. And notably, our community connections are also vitally important influences on our actual learning.


For as long as I’ve been training jiu jitsu, from my very earliest, flailiest experiences up to the present, my teachers and training partners have helped me achieve more in partnership with them than I would be able to by myself. Nowadays, I find myself doing for less experienced practitioners what my teachers have always done for me: using my knowledge to set them up for success. For instance, let’s say we drilled a triangle sequence during the technique part of class. During the rolling part, if my partner has significantly less experience than I do, I might purposefully place myself in a situation where s/he can execute the techniques we worked on earlier in the class.

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