Name: Andy Burns
Club: Beach Judo Club/Team Bath
What is your judo background?
I started judo fairly late at 16, and was lucky to find my way to Beach Judo Club with Joe Burns as the Head Coach. He helped me fall in love with the sport and is still a role model for me today, and continues to support many young kids in Blackburn.
I moved to Bath University at 18 and trained full-time for 13 years, including 3 years in Edinburgh as part of the Scottish team. Competitively, I was reserve for Beijing in 2008 and was in the mix for both London and Rio but never quite made the jump to that level. I did represent at all levels expect the Games and won multiple Continental Opens, European Cups, a -23 European Championships medal, British Champion, Commonwealth Games medal, and a 5th place at the World University Games.
How did you get into coaching?
I have done bits of coaching since gaining my UKCC level 2 in 2004, but my first real step into coaching came when I injured my elbow in 2015. I was invited down to Wales to help with the physical preparation of the athletes their and somehow ended up on the mat taking the odd session, which snowballed to me coaching, basically, full-time in Wales when I retired.
What is your coaching role?
I work for UK Sport as a coaching advisor, which involves supporting coaches from various sports at podium level to deliver results at Olympic and Paralympic Games, improve their practice, and grow as practitioners and have a strategic responsibility for pathway coach development. I am also supporting the GB Judo Senior Men’s and Women’s programmes at competitions and camps, and step on the mat in Bath whenever I am not on the road for work.
What is your coaching philosophy?
Always struggle with this question, but will have a stab at it.
If I believe philosophy to be a collection of goals, values and beliefs then working with the athlete to establish their goals, being honest together about where they are in relation to that goal and planning how to bridge that gap.
Valuing them as humans first, fighter second. Believing that in judo especially that there are many ways to win, and that although natural ability is a real thing, talent is dependent on motivation, dedication and growth so everyone can improve and find a way to achieve their goals.
What motivates you as a coach?
Quite simple really, I have benefited massively for the intended and unintended consequences of trying to be the best judoka I can, and the pursuit of excellence has changed the direction of my life forever. The journey alongside others has giving me a friendship group that will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I love the idea of supporting other people to have a similar experience. The two quotes below, from Jordan Peterson, articulate the sentiment much better than I ever can:
“It all starts with a goal. If you don’t have a destination in mind, you’re just adrift at sea going with the flow.”
“The purpose of life is finding the largest challenge that you can bear and bearing it.”
And who can argue that trying to win Olympic Gold in judo is not a big challenge!!
What are your coaching ambitions going forwards?
Simply to continue to learn and improve, to coach as part the GB Judo Programme, and as part of my job elsewhere to work with and support coaches to develop and grow their capability and capacity to help athletes reach their potential (cheesy I know!).
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to be a coach?
Gain a real thirst for learning, because it never stops. Find great coaches, and spend time learning as much as you can from them, without cutting and pasting as you need to find your way that fits your personality – not everyone is the booming voice at the front. It is a real privilege to coach, so learn to appreciate rather than rushing to the medals.
What three words best describe coaching to you?