I’m not sure how many times I’ve heard it said, but my blood pressure goes up every time I hear a coach say, “I’m not in it for the money.” This is quickly followed, or preceded, by statements that suggest the coach is having a hard time building his program. Don’t get me wrong, coaches are free to charge or not charge for the services they provide. However, there are unintended consequences when you don’t charge for Judo lessons.
Not charging, or charging little, sends the message that there’s little value to your product and services, or there’s something wrong with your sport, or your coaching abilities. While bjj charges $150-200 a month, too many of our coaches are in the $20-40 range, or are giving the sport away for nothing. This adds to the feeling that Judo is cheap for a good reason. While giving back to the sport might make you feel good, it does little for Judo’s image. And, many times, it does little to grow your club membership.
When students don’t have skin in the game or an investment in the program, they are more apt to take you for granted, and not take ownership of the program.
So, if you are still one of those kind-hearted coaches who’s not in it for the money, here’s an idea. Charge going rates, and use the funds to better your program. You could:
- Buy much needed training equipment whether it’s better or more mats, a crash pad, or a throwing dummy.
- Use the funds to get your students to out-of-area or out-of-state tournaments and training camps.
- Purchase a nice 32” TV and some good DVDs to use as part of your instructional tools.
- Create a small library of books and DVDs, and loan them out to your members for a nominal fee.
- Invite a special guest instructor to run a clinic for your membership.
- Hire someone to help you coach.
- Get yourself to coaching clinics to better your teaching skills.
- Start a small scholarship for whatever reason you desire.
- Get some good advertising. If you’re computer illiterate, hire someone to create a website and a Facebook page or group.
These are just some obvious purposes for the funds you raise. You can probably think of some others if you think outside the box. If you do just half of the suggestions, your membership will grow.
One more comment on growing your program. If you’re stuck in a YMCA or community center that gives you one or two days at non-prime time hours, it’s hard to grow your program. So, use those funds to move into a commercial site that allows you to expand the number of hours and days you have class. Greater choice of classes results in greater membership growth. That way, you can give more back to the sport, and reach more students.
Above all and for all our sake, quit reinforcing the idea that Judo is cheap, and has little or no value compared to the other arts available.