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Mentor program morphs to Coaching program

A while back, I published a description of the mentor program that Unit 361 has offered twice in the last two years ( We just held a brainstorming meeting for the next iteration, and came up with a revised program: a Coaching program.

A newer player, or ideally a pair, signs up and gets assigned to a coach, who is a more advanced player. These people arrange to play in the same club game (some clubs run limited and open games in parallel) and then to meet afterwards for a coaching session, compare what they did on various hands, etc. The agreement is for at least six coaching sessions during 2017.

This program appears to address some of the issues of the mentor program:

  • Mentors didn't necessarily "enjoy" playing with their mentee. It wasn't easy to recruit mentors.
  • Some mentors were not really suited for the role. Hopefully, it will be easier for coaches to keep their cool since their own game is not affected.
  • Mentors played at the unit's expense, while coaches will play on their own dime.
  • The mentor program didn't have any programmatic follow-up. The mentee would play his/her six games, and then nothing would happen. The coaching program is designed to develop a partnership as well as a player, and hopefully the newer player won't be left high and dry at the end of the program. (We're also thinking about some kind of party or special game at the end, but that's TBD.)

Some nuts and bolts:

  • We've developed a set of guidelines for coaches, reminding them to pay attention to the social and enjoyment aspect for their coachees, not to overload the coachees, yada yada.
  • We're planning to check in on each pairing every now and then -- a quick email message to see how it's going.
  • At this point we're not setting an upper masterpoint limit on people who can sign up for coaching. I'm not sure this is a good idea, but it's what was decided.
  • We're also not setting a limit on the number of people who can sign up. We're opening it for coachee signup first, and then seeing how many coaches we need to recruit. First come first served, if we can't find a coach for everybody.

And, in a related effort, we're going to have a Help Desk at our sectional tournaments, between the morning and afternoon sessions. Three or four advanced players will be available to discuss problem hands with anybody who wants to stop by.


We're just rolling these out, so there's no data yet -- if people are interested, I'll post updates from time to time.

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