Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The importance of continuity

Technical training takes up a lot of time. It's best spent on those players who are serious about training and committed to following the program.

Last year, when we started aggressively introducing people to judo, we did two things to make it easier for newcomers to give judo a try. Firstly, we provided free trials. Secondly, we gave people the option to pay per session rather than commit to a monthly fee.

Going forward in 2018, we will tweak the first policy and eliminate the second. Free trials are pretty common for any clubs. If you go to a gym, they will usually allow you to try out for free to see if you like it there. So, yes, we will continue to offer this although on a selective basis. Last year, we had some people who, in retrospect, clearly never seriously intended to give judo a go and only wanted to come once. Perhaps it's to have some social media picture opportunities to say, look I've tried judo! Perhaps it's part of their bucket list to have tried every martial arts at least once. Who knows, but from now on we will assess those who want a free trial and if it doesn't seem like they are serious about taking up judo, we won't offer a free trial to them.

Now, you might wonder what's wrong with giving someone a free trial. It doesn't really cost us anything to do so right? Actually that's not true. It costs us time, which is scarce and valuable. When a new player comes for a free trial, they are usually starting from scratch so we have to allocate resources to teaching them the basics. Then, when it comes for the technical sessions they will naturally have difficulty keeping up with the other players who already have some experience. That's fine if they are serious about taking up judo. It's not fine -- and a complete waste of time, actually -- if they never had any intention to come back again in the first place.

We've also had some players who couldn't or wouldn't commit to training regularly with us. They would come perhaps once or twice a month or maybe once in two months (yes, there are some like that). To make it less financially burdensome for such people, we gave them the option of paying a per session fee instead of a monthly fee.

This may have been a good option for such players but it was not so good for the club. Firstly, when fees are ad hoc like this, there is no reliable stream of income. But we have overheads to pay every month. Having a steady stream of income is important for the survival of the club. Secondly, when people come on an ad hoc basis, they fall behind very badly. Again, additional time and resources are needed just to get them up to speed. Such time and resources would be better spent on members who train regularly and who are committed to following the program. So, we won't be having the per session option anymore.

We are not a big judo club. We don't have a huge membership. In fact, our membership is quite small if you compare us to some of the government-funded clubs. On most months, we generate just enough revenue to cover costs. So we are running on passion. If I, as a coach, am going to spend time training people in judo, I want to spend it training those who are truly keen and are willing to put in the time to learn judo properly.

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