5 Questions with Coach Jacob Harman from Team Thunder

1) How do you motivate kids vs professionals and what are some take-aways for up and coming coaches?

“A lot of the time coaching kids and professionals is very similar – it’s very contextual and it always depends on the individual.”

Coach Harman coaches kids as young as 3 years old and focuses on fun and over-celebrating a child’s successes and achievements. “I try to ignore their bad behaviors or failures at that age,” Coach says, he doesn’t want to teach them to fear failures, so all of his attention is focused on their successes.

When it comes to coaching professionals or more experienced athletes, “it’s important to remind them why they love the sport and why they started training in the first place – Keeping it fun!”

 

2) What is the most important life skill coaches should teach kids?

“Confidence and self-respect,” Coach replied quickly.

He went on to say that along with confidence, having self-respect (and respect for others) is so important in both wrestling and MMA. “They need to think of themselves as a hand-crafted Bentley, and treat themselves just as preciously. – You wouldn’t eat McDonalds in a Bentley!”

After self-respect is learned and instilled at a young age it gives them an advantage because they learn to see themselves as worthy and ‘Bentley-like.’ It gives them an ‘I-matter’ and one-of-a-kind mindset that will guide them through the rest of their lives, not only in their training, and help them over-come day-to-day obstacles.

 

3) What’s your favorite drill for kids?

For children ages 3 – 6, Coach explained how he can “trick them into being strong” by playing games and making workouts fun. As they get a bit older it’s all about flow-rolling and ‘play wrestling.’

“We tend to become too work-oriented in general, but it shouldn’t always be about work,” Coach explained, “We need to minimize burnout as much as possible.” Coach does this by letting his athletes be creative and come up with their own ideas and techniques.

Coach also prides himself on teaching his students to be good listeners and respectful, all while having fun.

 

4) Who do you consider the best fighter you’ve ever coached and what makes him or her special or different from others?

Coaches first response - “That’s an impossible question!”

After a bit of thought, Coach started with Rafael Dos Anjos, “He uses his heart to push his muscle.”

He went on to explain how Anjos grew from living in a small home in Brazil with 2-3 other families, to becoming a UFC Champion – after almost leaving the UFC all-together.

Next was multi-UFC Champion, Lyoto Machida. Coach described him as “all-around just a true martial artist.” He shared one example of Machida learning a ‘hit-punch-sprawl’ combination in about 3 minutes, as where Coach normally expects no less than 3 full sessions for an athlete to feel comfortable with this move. “We showed him the move, he closed his eyes and walked himself through it, opened his eyes and did it amazingly his first try! – I’d never seen anything like it,” Coach said, “he has one of the best minds I’ve ever worked with.”

Coach also felt it important to include Morgan McIntosh, “He may be the best wrestler I’ve ever coached.” He continued on to tell us how McIntosh went unscored upon offensively and was never taken down for over 3 years of his high school career. He was an NCAA finalist for Penn State and continued on to graduate with high ranking the US special forces. Coach ended with “He’s an all-around amazing athlete and a hero.”

 

5) How long does it take for an NCAA wresting champion or elite wrestler to transition to Fighting MMA?  What is the hardest obstacle for them?  

“Wrestlers definitely already have the advantage of great work ethic and goal setting when transitioning into MMA,” Coach Harman started, “the MMA journey can be loose and undefined but wrestlers are able to bring logic and structure into their training schedules.” He explained how muscle memory tends to be one disadvantage to transitioning wrestlers when it comes to dropping their heads, “wrestlers tend to get Guillotined more often, specifically.”

“Wrestlers are the toughest people on the planet.” Coach continued on to explain and because of that it’s important to know when to take a break and not to over-train. “Over-training can exhaust your mood, mind and body.” Coach used the example of ‘cramming for a test’ and explained how wrestlers transitioning into MMA often feel like they’ve fallen behind in a class. “They are trying to cram a lifetime of BJJ and Muay Thai into one or two years and this leads to over-training because they’re essentially adding two brand new disciplines into their schedule, but once they grasp the concept, they tend to excel.” He added, “With that being said, it’s important for any athlete to enjoy the process and find the best partners to make training efficient.”

 

Coached finished up the interview with, “I really appreciate the support, constant contact and attention I receive from Mike Swain and the Dollamur team.”

 

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