top of page
  • Writer's pictureFrank Doogan

What can teachers learn from athletes’ coaches?

Updated: Feb 6

Following our previous blog on teaching and coaching a fascinating opportunity to talk with someone who has been World Taekwon-Do Power Breaking Champion twice, who is a coach of great standing internationally, and who is also a school teacher.

‘Can teachers learn from athletes’ coaches?’ is a question we thought Brendan was ideally suited to answer along with his commentary on the differences abetween coaching and teaching; and in particular the differences that are most significant when we want to look at achieving excellence.

Brendan the coach

Brendan’s introduction

Mr Brendan Doogan began training in 1997 and is an International Instructor, International Umpire, World Champion in Power Breaking, and a member of the Tournament Advisor Group in New Zealand. An all-rounder in the Art, he has passed nearly all of his gup and dan tests with A passes, as well as winning 100+ medals in sparring, patterns, special technique and power test. 

Mr Doogan has taught Taekwon-Do throughout New Zealand, and in Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, South Korea, China, Norway, The Netherlands, Ireland, England and Scotland.

Now a full-time Taekwon-Do Instructor, he shares the art whenever and wherever he can. He also writes articles for Taekwon-Do Talk Magazine and for overseas publications.


Brendan’s comments on coaching and learning

Learning, for me, is something that leads to a change in knowledge or behaviour, and for that learning to be more than basic, it must be part of the development of a system of knowledge or behaviour.

To achieve excellence in a sport there are three essential requirements:

1.       A singularity of focus, viz. an intense and direct interest in the subject.

2.       Access to as many possible resources as you can find on that skill.

3.       Personal tuition.

Focus everywhere

While it's possible to achieve a good standard by having strong motivation and access to resources, the achievement of excellence, which is clearly required if you want to be something like a world champion, is not possible unless you have an excellent coach in your field.

The characteristic of a coach which appears to be most important is the capacity to be a model of excellence in that field, and a model of leadership. Both of these factors enable affinity with the coach and that affinity seems to enable a greater level of learning.

The achievement of excellence in an art like Taekwon-Do is the result of many hours of repeated practise in conjunction with access to a broad set of resources and the guidance of a great tutor.

On my path to becoming World Taekwon-Do Power Breaking Champion, I read a little under 360 Sports Science papers; I spent tens of thousands of $US on the best possible coaches; and I competed in every tournament I could find, locally and internationally. Ultimately, I used the knowledge and the experience gained in that process to become a coach.

If you want to be a great coach, detailed knowledge of your student is fundamental because it is only in the detailed knowledge of that student that you can successfully guide them to achieve excellence in their field.

A great coach and happy students

At least initially, a degree of talent is required to achieve excellence, whether that is being naturally strong if you are to be a  weightlifter, naturally fast if you are to be a sprinter; and tall if you are to be an NBA player. Needless to say, there are some exceptions but these are few.

Having talent is a start, but you will not get close to excellence without

1.       A singularity of focus, viz. an intense and direct interest in the subject.

2.       Access to as many possible resources as you can find on that skill.

3.       Personal tuition.

Brendan’s comments on teaching

In school, the challenges are frequently around the amount of time that is available for a student to achieve. The range of subjects taught can place a heavy load on a student who wants to excel because, in part, achievement in any subject (whether that is math or chemistry, language, science, or history) requires a baseline of  good memorization.

Of course, memorization only has good effect if it is in conjunction with understanding of the subject matter. Students may, with sufficient skill development, master techniques for memory, but moving that memory to useful understanding can require a lot of teacher support.

The biggest challenge that is faced in schools is that teachers are physically and emotionally incapable of providing close personal and detailed support for each and every student.

While schooling systems do their absolute best to impart both knowledge and skills, the motivational drive, knowledge, and guidance that comes from a great personal tutor is what makes the difference between doing well and doing exceedingly well in school subjects.

In short, exceptional achievement is only possible with the highly detailed and personal knowledge that a tutor has of the student.

That knowledge will enable the great coach and great tutor to teach that student to an optimal degree.

If you are looking for excellence in Taekwon-Do, feel free to contact Brendan at

If you are looking for excellence in your academic subjects, feel free to contact MyIT at +852 92791395

45 views0 comments


bottom of page