It’s funny how things happen. Last week I let one of our fighters go. Then, while cleaning up my emails, I found a piece that I wrote four years ago on exactly this subject. Moreover, I recently spoke with Coach Chris Luttrell and Coach Pat Miletich, and we discussed the fighter that does not listen, or the fighter that decides he’s too good for your instruction. I figured that all of the aforementioned events were a sign to have my old article resurrected. Its purpose is twofold. It allows me to vent a little, however, its primary purpose is to help new coaches who may have encountered similar scenarios and are unsure how to handle the situation.
“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” Truer words have never been spoken. When I became serious about being a trainer, Saul Soliz gave me some solid advice. He said, “Fighters come and go, so get use to it.” How right he was. No matter how hard you try, or how good of a trainer you are, you will always have that one guy who chooses not to listen. He exists in every gym, and we have all seen him before. They are loud and cocky, yet just somewhat talented. Most of these fighters are blessed with natural strength, speed, and athleticism, but lack the head to go along with the rest of the package. He roams from gym to gym blaming everyone under the sun for his deficiencies and sadly, never finds a home. Guys like this are their own worst enemy, and their inability to identify the true root of their lack of progression will keep them from growing in our sport. I have trained many fighters, and have retained almost all of them. However, I have had a few that have sought greener pastures.
When this first happened, I was devastated. “What did I do wrong?”…”Did I fail as a trainer?”…”How can I keep this from happening again?” The truth is there is nothing we can do as trainers to keep a fighter or make them listen. We do however, have to realize our limitations, and identify if we can no longer help an individual fighter. If we can’t help them any further, send them to someone who can. Many new coaches have asked me for my opinion on fighters who ignore instruction, or choose to leave. “What should I do?” I say, “fire them.” Send them packing. Wish them the best. Don’t let the cancer spread. Sometimes you have to chop off an arm to save the body. Do not waste your time and energy focusing on fixing one fighter, when you have many others who want and need your help. Use your talent as a trainer to teach and motivate those who are receptive.
My final word on the subject, if you have someone who thinks the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, let them find out for their self. But even if it is greener, they still have to cut that grass.
Follow Bob “The General” Perez on Twitter @KruBobPerez