When the Student Becomes the Teacher

Teaching while I’m still learning.

Photo by Gabin Vallet on Unsplash

It’s the weirdest feeling when a parent asks you what their child can do to improve on something you’re still working on.

The first time it happened was when I started helping out with the kids’ martial arts class and I was asked about front rolls. Anyone who knows me knows I struggle with my rolls due to my spotty training history (and not practicing enough).

The parent looked at me like I was an authority on it and I felt like a fraud. Here I am, struggle-bussing myself, and you trust me to teach your kid. As I talked, I came to a realization.

I’m not good at what I do, but I can explain how to do it because I’m struggling. I can tell you how the body mechanics work because I’m working on them.

And then we fast forward to a couple of months ago when I became a coach at my obstacle gym. The previous owner sold it to one of my friends and she hired me, not because I can do most of the obstacles, but because I care about the gym.

Now, instead of falling off obstacles during training, I’m falling off obstacles in front of a class of kids and making it look like an accident. Or in competition with one of my students to see who will reach the top of the twelve foot wall first.

Most of the time, it’s good and I’m confident enough to walk the kids through obstacles, catch them when they fall, and give them the tips they need to do better next time.

Most of the time, but there are still days when I feel like a fraud. I know my training isn’t up to par, but I’ve come to realize there are some kids who need to see their coaches trying and failing so they have the courage to keep going.

All of the coaching and trying to come up with different ways to explain how things work has also made a positive impact on my own training. It makes me more conscious of what I need to work on and how I can improve.

I can’t wait to see how it changes my life in the next year.

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