We have all witnessed the massive chess boom that started in late 2019 and early 2020 and continues today.
This massive growth in online chess has opened several exciting doors for chess coaches worldwide. With the growing popularity of chess and the availability of several free-to-play online chess platforms, many new players are beginning their chess journey each day.
As a chess coach, you can help these new players understand this beautiful game of 64 squares and get stronger faster.
If you are a chess player looking to start your chess coaching career, you must have heard of the many challenges a chess coach faces daily. Creating something new often results in several forced and unforced errors. Often, many new coaches get too scared by the mammoth task ahead of them and instead decide to quit on the idea even before they start.
“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor,” without complications; there is no learning. There are some common mistakes that every new chess coach makes, and they are reasonably easy to avoid. But mistakes are a part of the learning process. As a chess coach, the more you learn from your mistakes, the faster you can improve and become a better coach.
In this blog, we have prepared a list of the most common mistakes new chess coaches make and how you can avoid them when starting your chess coaching academy.
Not Listening To The Students
The first mistake on this list is also the most common one. This applies to all teachers and not just chess coaches. As a coach or a teacher, you must listen to your students, their doubts, and their ideas. Otherwise, the coaching process becomes just a one-way conversation. This will often result in your students losing motivation to learn, which will impact their chess improvement and your coaching academy’s reputation.
A common mistake that new coaches make is that they try to plan out every single second of their coaching sessions. This kills the free flow and often results in dull lectures.
You can avoid this problem with an online coaching management platform. An online classroom with integrated video calling features will allow you to interact with your students in real-time. The live chat feature ensures that all the doubts of the students are cleared in real-time. The live chat also provides a fantastic solution for the coaches to interact with the students during group classes.
Limited Chess Knowledge
This is another major problem that most new chess coaches face. They either don’t have enough teaching experience, or their chess understanding is often limited. Such chess coaches often teach their students the wrong concepts and false ideas. This is very harmful, as the students will learn the false concepts with complete faith, and they might make these mistakes in their essential tournaments.
As a coach, you should always ensure that you completely understand anything you tell or teach your students. There are thousands of games, studies, opening ideas, and chess literature available online to learn and improve your knowledge and understanding of the game.
If you want to become a great chess coach, you must spend some time learning from these resources before you embark on your chess coaching journey.
Skipping The Fundamentals For Tactical Glory
“We often skip the fundamentals in pursuit of the fancy.” Most new coaches want to impress their students and the parents by fancy tactical training.
They also throw in some basic strategies, like “In the opening try to develop all your pieces, castle your king into safety, and control the center,” which is not only acceptable but necessary for the ‘fun’ aspect to get the students started.
But right after that, they move on to the advanced concepts of pins, discovered attacks, and sacrifices without teaching them the basic ideas of the game, including calculation and chess counting.
This is one such chess puzzle that most beginners of the game struggle with finding the right solution. While any experienced player will know that the best move for Black is to capture the rook with his bishop and be an exchange up, the same is not so evident with the new players.
Many beginners either got the problem wrong or felt it was complicated and unsure. Many were wrong because they assumed the “checkers” rule that you have to keep capturing, thus after 1…Bxd3 2.cxd3 they thought Black had to play 2…Qxd3 and lose the queen, and therefore the capture of the rook to begin was inadvisable. They did not consider that Black had the option to stop capturing at any advisable point, such as when he was ahead material.
And this is just one of the many examples where the fundamental concepts of chess are more important than the tactical ideas.
As a new chess coach, you should start your chess lessons with the rules (including checkmate and the most common draw concepts), then move on to the piece safety, counting, and basic strategy. Once your students have mastered these fundamentals, you can move on with the multi-move concepts of pins, forks, and sacrifices (the tactical ideas).
Focusing too heavily on “chess knowledge” and not enough on practical training
A common mistake new instructors make is that teaching opening ideas will make the student an overall better player. Maybe microscopically, it will.
Progressing at chess is a lot more than acquiring knowledge. The single biggest skill that correlates with overall playing strength is analytical ability. That’s why 11-year-olds that have read only a few chess books can be rated 1900, while 40-year-olds who have read hundreds might still be at 1600.
In his book Chess for Zebras, GM Rowson spends a bit of the first chapter explaining how he learned that giving 1700 players more “chess knowledge” (e.g., openings and endgames) had little effect on their rating! It is funny because it is so true. The fastest way to improve at chess is by playing the game itself. Everything else is secondary.
If you plan to pursue a career in chess coaching, ensure that your chess classes strike the right balance of practical and theoretical training. At the start of new coaching cycles, dedicate more time for practical training with games and puzzles. As your students get stronger, you can incorporate more theory lessons during the training sessions. The right balance of actual playing practice and opening and endgame theory will help your students improve their game much faster.
Lack of Charisma and a poor teaching style
This is a general teaching tip that can also apply to coaches in other fields. No matter how much experience you have, no matter how much chess knowledge you have, nothing will help you with your coaching skills if you cannot create an engaging, immersive, and fun learning environment for your students. That is why chess coaches are more important than chess engines.
If you are serious about chess coaching, it is paramount that you work on your communication and public speaking skills. When you can effectively convey the ideas you want your students to learn, they improve and get stronger at the game.
If you have made it this far in the blog, you must be serious about chess coaching, and that is wonderful! We hope that the common mistakes listed in this blog will help you start your chess coaching career with the right first step.
You must have noticed, due to the growing popularity and increasing benefits of online chess and virtual platforms, most chess coaches and academies are moving towards the new hybrid coaching management solution. If you want to grow your business, it is the perfect time to invest in such a platform.
Chesslang is the world’s first chess coaching and management platform that enables you to integrate our state-of-the-art coaching solution directly into your chess website. When you sign up with Chesslang, we ensure that you go live with your new coaching platform within minutes. Yes, minutes!
You can request a free 15 mins access to Chesslang and learn more about all the fantastic features of our platform from our team of experts.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Q. Is this the right time to start chess coaching?
A. Yes! Thanks to the recent chess boom, chess has now turned into a sustainable career choice for many players and coaches. If you like to teach, this is the ideal time to begin your chess coaching career.
Q. Why should one invest in an online coaching solution?
A. A coaching and management platform like Chesslang can help you grow your business faster by allowing you to reach more students and automate the daily operations of your chess academy to focus on just teaching chess.
Q. What is the correct approach to teaching chess?
A. Well, while there is no single right approach to chess coaching, the fundamentals still apply. As a chess coach, you must focus on building the proper fundamentals for the students of your academy before you teach them crazy tactics or flashy material sacrifice to win with style. If the base is not strong enough, your students will not be able to improve their game.