Why Combat Coaching is Under-Appreciated (and How You Can Turn That Around) 

When it comes to combat sports, there’s one person who is essential to the athlete’s success: the coach.

Coaches play a vital role in the development and growth of their athletes and gym members, and yet they are often unappreciated for all that they do.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss how and why combat coaches are unappreciated and how you can turn that around.

What do Combat Coaches do for their Athletes, Gym Members and Society?

Coaches do a lot for their athletes. They help them to develop and grow as people, instilling in them discipline, respect and a strong work ethic. They also play an important role in helping their athletes to stay physically and mentally healthy, both in and out of the ring or octagon.

Combat coaches often go above and beyond what is expected of them, dedicating their time and energy to their athletes’ success both inside and outside of the gym. They are mentors, motivators and healers, helping their athletes to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.

And it’s not just the athletes competing that they help but also the wider gym family including:

  • teenagers interested in the sport
  • people from all walks of life who want to get fit and healthy
  • people struggling with mental health
  • people who are overstressed from their work

The list goes on. All these people benefit from the support, guidance and structure that a combat coach can provide.

Coaches play an important role in society. By teaching young people discipline and respect, they are helping to create a more positive and productive future generation. They help to reduce aggression, hostility and crime rates. Studies have shown that people who participate in combat sports are less likely to be physically aggressive, hostile or to commit crimes.

With all the good that they do, you would think that coaches would be appreciated more. Unfortunately, this is not the case. All too often coaches are taken for granted and their contributions are vastly underestimated.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why this happens.

Why are Combat Coaches Under-Appreciated?

1. People Don’t Understand What They Do

One of the main reasons why combat coaches are unappreciated is because people don’t understand what they do. To the casual observer, combat sport just looks like two people hitting each other – not something that requires a lot of skill or training.

But the truth is, there is so much more to it than that.

Combat coaching is a complex and nuanced profession that requires a great deal of knowledge, experience and expertise.

More importantly, good combat coaches don’t just focus on the physical aspect of training. They focus on the mental and emotional aspects too so they help their athletes to develop mentally and emotionally, as well as physically.

In fact, it’s often said, that combat sport, especially competing, is 20% physical and 80% mental.

2. People Underestimate the Impact Combat Coaches Have

Another reason why they are so unappreciated is because people underestimate the impact combat coaches have.

Sure, they might help someone to lose a few pounds or learn how to throw a punch, but in the grand scheme of things, how does that really matter?

The truth is, combat coaches can have a profound and lasting impact on their athletes and gym members. They can help them to develop physically, mentally and emotionally. They can teach them discipline and respect. They can change their lives for the better. I’ve talked about this in greater detail in these posts:

On top of that, many of the benefits that combat sports bring extend beyond just the class sessions where you’re hitting pads and bags. Having a clearer mind, a better work ethic, and learning how to better deal with adversity are just some of the benefits that can carry over into all areas of your life including your personal relationships and career and thus impact society as a whole.

Unfortunately, however, in a society that places a lot of emphasis on individualism, we often forget about the people who help us to achieve our goals – especially those who play a big part in supporting us emotionally and energetically.

3. There is a Negative Perception Surrounding Combat Sports

There can be a negative perception of combat sports, that can make some people view coaches in a negative light. This is largely due to media influences that often associate combat sports with violence, crime and gangs.

However, this is not an accurate portrayal of what combat sports are really about. In reality, they are about discipline, respect, hard work and determination. They can be a positive force in someone’s life, helping them to stay out of trouble and to set and achieve their goals.

4. Coaches Themselves Don’t Appreciate Their Own Worth

I believe one of the main reasons we as combat coaches are underappreciated is because we ourselves underestimate the difference we make. Many coaches don’t appreciate their own worth and the value that they bring to the table. This can be for a number of reasons, including:

  • They don’t believe that what they do is as valuable or important as it actually is!
  • They have low self-esteem and don’t think what they do equates to other “professionals”.
  • Many coach for the love of what they do and don’t believe they warrant receiving a financial return for what they offer.
  • When coaches do not appreciate their own worth or value this in turn leads to a lack of appreciation from others for what coaches do and the impact that they have.
  • They compare themselves to other coaches who they perceive to be more successful or skilled than they are.

If you are a coach, it’s important to remember that you are valuable and that what you do matters. You make a difference in the lives of your athletes and gym members, and in society as a whole. So don’t sell yourself short – appreciate yourself and the difference that you make.

5. Society Doesn’t Value Physical Activity as Much as It Should

Unfortunately, society doesn’t value physical activity as much as it should. This is especially true in recent years, with the rise of sedentary lifestyles and technology.

People are increasingly spending more time sitting down, staring at screens and living unhealthy lives. 

While there is nothing wrong with enjoying a good book or watching TV, the problem is that people are not getting enough physical activity.

Physical activity is essential for our health and wellbeing. It helps to reduce stress, improve mental health, increase energy levels and so much more.

And yet, despite all of these benefits, society doesn’t seem to value it as much as it should. This is one of the reasons why combat coaches are unappreciated – because the importance of physical activity itself is not fully appreciated.

If we want to change this, we need to do a better job of promoting the benefits of not just physical activity, but also the mental side of combat sport and showing people how it can improve their lives. We need to make it a priority to encourage others to do the same.

6. People Don’t Realize How Much Work goes into Being a Combat Coach

Finally, another reason why coaches are unappreciated is that people don’t realize how much work goes into being one. Sure, it might look like all they do is stand around and shout instructions, but there is so much more to it than that.

Coaches have to design training programs, teach techniques, motivate athletes and deal with a whole range of other issues. It’s a demanding job that requires a lot of time, effort and dedication.

So next time you see a coach, take a moment to appreciate all the work that they do. They are doing an important job that often goes unnoticed. Thank them for their contribution and let them know that you appreciate what they do.

How I Stopped Being Under-Appreciated and Started Charging My Worth

As someone who’s been a combat coach for more than 40 years, I truly understand what it’s like to be under-appreciated.

I’ve personally faced all of the issues above, and one striking example of this was when I tried to bring boxing into schools as a way of teaching teenagers to recognise and regulate their emotions.

To cut a long story short – I wasn’t taken seriously by the schools. Even though I had many examples of young athletes and everyday teenagers whom I’d helped get through some very emotionally tough times through combat sport, they still insisted that I needed a piece of paper (other than my coaching qualifications) to “prove my credentials.”

So, I pursued the “pieces of paper”. I obtained degrees in both Sport and Exercise Science and Psychology as well as a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology. 

After many years of research and study, I was able to “prove” to the schools (and everyone else) that what I was doing worked. It wasn’t “just” Boxing or Martial Arts, its impact was based on sound science.

Now, I’m not saying that you need to go out and get a degree to be appreciated as a combat coach. But what I am saying is that you need to understand the value that you provide, and more importantly, you need to be able to articulate it.

You need to be able to show people how your services can benefit them, and you need to be able to do it in a way that they can understand. That’s how you’ll start to be appreciated more, and that’s how you’ll be able to charge more for your services.

So, How Can Combat Coaches Be Appreciated More And Charge More For Their Services Without a Uni Degree?

Now, if you’re a combat coach and what I’ve been talking about is resonating with you, I’d like to share with you something I’ve been working on for the last 10 years.

It’s called the CounterPunch™ Facilitator Training program, and it basically helps you to truly understand the value that you bring to the table as a coach, and how to effectively communicate that value to others.

One of the primary reasons, in my opinion, why we as coaches sell ourselves short is because we do not have a structured objective breakdown of how we impact mental health and emotional regulation. Most coaches can readily articulate the physical and technical components of what they offer but few can objectively state the session-by-session mental fitness components of what they teach.

The CounterPunch Facilitator program provides this missing link that in combination with the skills you already have, allows you to both promote and deliver the Mental health aspects of what you do!

The program is delivered over 3 days and basically gives you all the tools you need to be able to market your combat gym as not just a place to learn Combat Sport but also a place to learn both mental and emotional skills to fulfill the potential of your members not just in the gym but in life outside the gym.

So if you’re a combat gym owner who:

  • wants to learn how to charge what you’re worth
  • is passionate about making a difference in your community
  • is looking for a way to grow your gym 

Then I’d like to invite you to check out my CounterPunch™ Facilitator Training program.

If being appreciated and valued for what you do as a Combat Coach makes sense to you then lets have a chat about how we can make that happen.



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  1. Merc's presentation in person is great, well informed facts and great communication and interaction with the guests discussing many topics in sport that people face but don't know how to deal with, again very informative.

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