The online lessons are back, hopefully the viewers too....But what makes a coach good?
Last time I wrote on this page I was wildly celebrating my success on youtube , or more importantly about how rapidly my channel got a lot of views and subbers. Although my personal charm,handsome appearance and irresistible aura my content surely attracts viewers , I am yet to figure out what exactly was/is happening.
Due to unforeseen circumstances I had to shut down my former channel but now I am back online with very similar content and the viewership is a slow but steady rise. I primarily post my 1 on 1 private lessons, and they seem to enjoy the most popularity. It makes me believe that I might do a few things right...
So what is it that makes a chess coach good (I am not claiming i am good, but i believe I know my worth)?
Whilst the above scenario may look tempting to many, we need to admit that chess wise it's not gonna work out. That however, does not mean that a 1800 rated player can't be a brilliant coach. In fact, one of the best chess teachers i have ever seen was a dude who at best could do 1200.
The key point here is that you need to know your trade well, you need to know your limits, and you need to do your work with enthusiasm. This makes one an authentic coach, which is a very important first step.
2. Know your students
This is a super important factor. Although with every new student we start from scratch, you quickly have to figure out a lot of stuff about them, which could be rather difficult when giving online lessons. We need to know their strengths, their weaknesses, their style, their personality(!). It is also important to know how passionate they are about chess and how passionate they are about getting better at it. Many coaches tend to confuse or mix these two things, although they require very different styles of coaching in my opinion.
This is where so many fail. I think these days coaches are afraid of losing students (and thereby money) and therefore they hold back a lot during coaching sessions. I am, if anything, a bit more harsh than necessary, but this is what I believe in, No nonsense, straight to the point. I am mostly coaching adults and I treat them as such. If they do something terrible, i tell them that it was terrible. No sweet talk, no "hm.. perhaps it was a slight error, or a second best move"
As per discussed above, we are teaching very different people, with different personalities and different chess styles. Whilst I am only willing to compromise my teaching style to a certain (rather low) degree, I do vary what I teach a great deal! We have to be ready to build 9 different opening repertoires for 9 different students. Many don't do it because it requires a lot of work and dedication, but this is exactly how we should cater for students who pay big bucks for lessons. (If my doctor gave me the same treatment as the other 15 before me who had similar symptoms, that would reflect on him very badly, and chess is no different)
5. Provide materials
This is a particularly juicy issue, especially with FIDE 2000 and higher. Your students will need an opening repertoire, and a reliable at that. Providing opening files is the bare minimum we should do if we have serious goals. I know many GM's who ran week long training sessions with promising IMs and in the end of it there was no tangible evidence of what took place. Granted, there is a lot (in fact most of it) to learn in the process, but you can't just pretend that the product does not exist.
On lower levels it is also good if we can provide ( at least sources) for puzzles and endgames.
This are just a few thoughts to discuss, but hopefully it will generate some discussion.
I do it something like this:
The only thing I know for sure about my own practice is that i am not doing it perfectly but i am keen to improve.