First of all, take the time to learn the art of the sweet science yourself, by either participating in it while learning, or asking an “educated” coach to teach you to coach. There are different opinions on whether or not you should have at least sparred in order to understand what a fighter is feeling inside the ring, and I will leave that subject for another day. I will say that if you are the type of coach who always wants “more” from your fighter without giving him or her the tools to deliver what you are asking for, or you question your fighter’s heart or willingness, you definitely should try lacing up some gloves yourself, and sparring at least, with an educated boxer. I promise you will see the ring in a different way.
Second, be able to communicate with your boxer and clearly articulate what it is you are teaching or attempting to teach. The same goes for working a fighter’s corner. Knowing the common “catch phrases” and regurgitating what you hear on televised fights, or what you read on a boxing website somewhere is not enough! “Throw the jab”, “Through your right” or ” Put pressure on him”, is almost like saying nothing, and as a matter of fact, if you are the type of coach who says these things without further articulating the why’s and how’s your fighter can make that happen, you are probably better off saying nothing!
Third, make sure you are teaching these kids how to BOX and not how to perform fancy mitt routines, play with pool noodles and ropes, look cool punching a heavy bag, beat up on kids with less athleticism and skills, kill each other in sparring, or how to “take a punch” or “be tough”. The whole point is to hit and not get hit, and if I have to tell you what you have to teach these kids for them to be able to do that, then you are unfit to be a boxing coach and need to take the time to learn what it is you are trying to teach your students. Yes, boxing is a tough sport and one will get hit no matter how good he is, but letting a kid take punches cause you want to establish whether or not he or she can handle the “hurt” side of the business, is cruel and irresponsible as well as ridiculous. No one “likes” getting hit and I would venture to say that the best that ever laced up gloves, hated taking punches! This would likely explain why they honed their ring generalship, movement, and defensive skills to the degree that they did, which in turn made them some of the best in the business. How many potential champions might we have lost because a kid goes into a gym to learn how to box or “defend himself”, and a poor coach throws the kid in a ring, letting him get beat up, to see if he or she would be “tough enough” to box, and the kid never steps foot in a boxing gym again? Again I would suggest that if this is a “technique” you use to grade your boxers, get into the ring yourself and see if you are still “tough enough” to box at your age and fitness level.
In closing let’s remember that boxing can be a beautiful thing when it’s done correctly and for the right reasons, whether in practicing, competing or coaching. Let’s put our egos aside and do things for the kids.