Keeping it fun is crucial to keeping your students happy and fulfilled.

Judo is a tough sport — in every sense of the word. It's hard on the body. At any one time, some body part is usually injured, sprained or at the very least, bruised. It's tough on the mind too as progress is often slow and you have to take a lot of defeats before you start winning. ‌‌‌‌

Making sure that each session is fun and fulfilling is a vital to the success of any judo program.  ‌‌‌‌While it's true that serious athletes may not need their training to be fun — they are usually motivated by the end result — the reality is that most judo players are not hardcore athletes aiming to win a world title or an Olympic gold medal.‌‌‌‌

Muhammad Ali once famously said: "I hated every minute of training but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'"‌‌‌‌That approach might work for 0.1% of the population (or perhaps less than that). Most people are not willing to suffer like that because most people are not aiming to be a World or Olympic Champion (Ali was both).

Most judokas are recreational players.‌‌‌‌ To make the training worthwhile, you have to make it fun. Students must enjoy the process of learning. They usually will if the lessons are relevant to their needs. And, it also has to be fulfilling. That is usually achieved when students can see tangible progress, however slow or gradual it may be. ‌‌‌‌

If they find the sessions to be fun, they will look forward to coming for training each time. And if they find the session fulfilling, they will put up with whatever aches and pains, and mental challenges that come with judo training.‌‌‌‌

So, how does a coach ensure that the sessions are fun and fulfilling? You start by realizing that a one-size-fits-all approach to judo is a recipe for disaster, because different people take up judo for different reasons.‌‌‌‌

For some, judo might be about mastering classical techniques. Others might just want to learn practical, competition techniques. Some players might want more games and exercises. Others might want more randori and shiai. ‌‌‌‌

Coaches need to understand that, and try to find ways to cater to these different needs, within reason. This will probably require setting up different types of classes for different days and advising students on which days to attend.‌‌‌‌

Lastly, it's important to understand that the fitness levels, aptitude and capabilities of students also vary considerably. So you'll have to adjust the pace of learning accordingly. You'll also have to know which students needs to be pushed hard, who should be pushed moderately and who not to push.

‌‌‌‌Do all that and your students will enjoy the sessions. Of course doing it this way is a lot more complex than just having a standard class for everyone. Making judo classes fun and fulfilling is not an easy thing to do but then again, as a judoka, you are used to dealing with hard things.