Think Twice Before Taking a Break from Chess Coaching

Taking a Break from Chess Coaching

A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you always knew you could be.

Tom Landry

Have you played chess for a while and thought about going solo rather than working with a professional chess coach?

Think again!

Taking a break from coaching is a one-step forward, two-step back approach. Whenever your coaching resumes, you will find yourself starting from a level below par from when you left. Chess is a game where a player evolves constantly.

The success of your strategy depends on so many variables that what might have worked yesterday might not be as effective today, and it will undoubtedly be redundant tomorrow.

We have spoken to several chess coaches, International Masters, Grandmasters, and champions. The single most important takeaway from all our discussions has been that most of the work that goes into making a chess champion happens when they have a guide who can call out their mistakes and urges them to work on their weaknesses.

Why having a coach is essential in every stage of the game

Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It’s helping them to learn rather than teaching them.

Tim Gallwey

Just like in a game of chess, there are three levels every player goes through in their chess journey: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced players.

Beginner Stage- Beginner Student and Coach

As a beginner, you are still learning the basics of the game. A coach’s role is paramount in developing your understanding and creating a foreground for learning—both the coach and student work on understanding each other, personally and professionally.

A good coach would know that what works for a few students may not be effective for some other students. Together, they create a learning environment where chess becomes an exciting and exciting game.

The fun way of learning chess is by having a coach-student relationship where questions and doubts are encouraged, and constructive feedback is offered and taken in the right spirit.

Middle Stage – Intermediate Student and Coach

At the intermediate level, the coach develops a mutual level playing field between himself and the student. Finally, the student has reached a certain level of proficiency, where he can even challenge and counter coaches’ moves and face challenges. This is a very delicate stage because the right level of encouragement and motivation could go a long way in developing the student as a champion chess player.

Coaches, at the stage, try to bring in a lot of practical approaches instead of a pedantic approach and try to build a friendly rapport with the student. As a result, a coach often becomes a playing partner and even a “4 am friend” to many players. 

This is also a stage where a player blooms into a formidable opponent. Again, a coach helps in determining the style of the player. Eventually, this becomes their signature style and moves. But a coach’s role doesn’t end here. 

End-stage – Advanced Level Student and Coach

An advanced student has probably already outshined his coach in some of the practice games. Advanced students have learned to handle the stress and pressure as well as pre and post-tournament jitters. The work done by coaches and advanced players is now more strategic, insightful, and philosophical.

Sometimes, the players and coaches work through some legendary games and encourage healthy debates to deepen their understanding of the game. At the end stage, a coach’s role is shifted to being a mentor and guide. This is an important stage for any chess player.

Only a handful of players cross the level from Intermediate to the advanced stage, and only a few of them would ever break into Master levels. The presence of an experienced coach at this level helps in the emotional and psychological preparation. Your coach will help you cut the chase and focus on what matters for you and your game.

Why it’s not wise to let go of coaching or take a break from chess coaching

If you are serious about playing chess and want to take it up professionally, you should not let a good coach go. Not all chess players could be great coaches, and you are lucky you have found one that clicks with your learning process. Like in all types of games and sports, you can never be too prepared for chess.

Every stage of your game, be it beginner, intermediate, or advanced, comes with its challenges, and if you want to progress to the next level, you need to work with someone who understands your game as much as you do.

A Chess Coach – Your Sounding Board

A coach is essential in keeping a player grounded. They also play a massive role in keeping them motivated, even after a few setbacks. A good coach will always make sure that the student can look at the bigger picture instead of focusing on small wins or losses.

A Chess Coach – Your Personal Guide

A coach can ensure you are not just a shooting star in chess- A good chess coach will not let his mentee get blindsided by early successes. The coach will make sure that the player hones their skills rather than celebrating the initial wins. If a chess player wants to play well consistently and in the long run, a chess coach will help in adjusting their game and working on course corrections from time to time.

A Chess Coach – Your Mentor

A coach is a mentor that no parent can replace. A chess coach is someone who has been there and done that. They have had several students work towards success in their chess careers, while several may have called it quits after a few years.

In that sense, a coach knows better than a parent when understanding the value chess brings to a child. With their experiences and expertise, coaches can help create the right ecosystem where a chess learner could learn without feeling the stress and pressure of the game and develop their natural style of play.

A Chess Coach – Your Career Guide

A coach can help in creating a chess career!

Ask any good chess coach, and they can regale you with countless stories about their previous students, the tournaments they were a part of, and events where they were invited as adjudicators themselves. As a chess player, these stories are not just motivating but could also work as the ideal way to start your journey as a chess coach, playing partner, referee, or judge. 

A chess coach is not just a teacher. He is your friend, philosopher, and guide into the world of chess; all rolled into one. Before letting go of a good chess coach simply because you think you deserve a break or need to take one, think about the benefits of keeping a mentor around.

In case you are looking to come back to the game, you will need them. Instead, it is best not to take a break from learning chess because it is harmful to your momentum and your consistency as a chess player.

Everyone needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast or a bridge player.

Bill Gates