Meet the Coach – Ben Urban

Name: Ben Urban

Club: Tonbridge Judo Club

What is your judo background?

I began judo at the age of 7 at Westerleigh Judokwai in Hastings, East Sussex, where I was coached by Paul Everest. I then spent my competitive career being coached by Chris Bowles at Tonbridge Judo Club. He remains my coach to this day after 15 years.

How did you get into coaching?

My transition into coaching was exceptionally smooth and I didn’t even realise it at the time. I think all of the coaches around me knew way before me that coaching was the right route for me. During a stint of injuries I began coaching at my club, whilst I was still training full time. At that point I had lost a lot of love for the sport and felt like I needed a new direction. It wasn’t love at first sight with coaching by any means but in 2015 Sophie Johnstone and I took on the Sussex County squads and that really inspired me to learn and to develop my coaching practice. It became a real aim to be effective in supporting young, aspiring, performance athletes.

I have had incredible opportunities to learn as a young coach and have been really thrown into the deep end in many ways. Chris, my coach, gave me a TJC training group to work with from day 1 of my coaching journey. I have been able to learn alongside the athletes and this is still how I approach every session I deliver.

What is your coaching role?

I am now a GB Home Nation Support Coach, working with the Paralympic programme and with the Cadet England Talent Development Squads.

What is your coaching philosophy?

Coaching is a learning process for everyone involved: if you trust the process, and you trust each other, learning will happen.

What motivates you as a coach?

I am motivated by the difference a coach who wants to learn with you and about you can make in a young person’s life. I love working with young people to establish the process we’ll follow to achieve their goals. The learning, re-learning, adjusting and adapting of plans, together wit the athletes is really important for me.

What has been your most memorable moment(s) as a coach?

It has to be, without a doubt, coaching team Uruguay at the 2019 Tokyo World Championships; judo in the home of Judo! what more could a judo nerd want? The whole experience of the Nippon Budokan was incredible!

My second favourite memory would be coaching at the 2019 Paris Grand Slam. I’ve never experienced anything like it, the crowd was incredible, the atmosphere was amazing and I was also there to watch my brilliant friend Gemma Howell take bronze!

A real memorable moment for me though was most recently Charlotte Jenman of TJC competing across Cadet, Junior, and Seniors at the 2021 British Championships. In a 7 day period she had 13 contests, and finished placing 5th in the seniors. Charlotte’s last contest was against Kimberly Renicks, 17 years Charlotte’s senior, and as she came off the mat we laughed and looked back on how many contest she had had, and said that this is exactly what learning looks like (a very tired and ready for Christmas Charlotte).

What are your coaching ambitions going forward?

My ambitions are to always to keep developing and learning. I am incredibly excited to work with the GB Paralympic programme and to support the team in the Paris cycle, with the aim of winning even more medals than GBR brought home from Tokyo!

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to be a coach?

Your job as a coach is to never be complacent; you never know enough and you can always learn from someone else. First and foremost, listen to your athletes, develop a plan that everyone is invested in and work as a team.

What three words best describe coaching to you?

Trust the process.

Are you interested in starting your coaching journey? Find out more here