The first thing that comes to mind if you want to improve in chess is getting a chess coach, but how it works? Coaches never work for free, and there are all kinds of questions that start popping up in your mind about it.
Is it really worth hiring a chess coach? Can I improve my chess without a chess coach? If I hire a chess coach it will actually help me improve?
Today we will give you a transparent opinion on what you should expect from hiring a chess coach, and why you should do it.
Understanding where you are
This is something many beginners struggle with, they don’t know the level they are, and that is somewhat problematic. Have you heard about the saying that goes like “you can’t get anywhere if you don’t know where you are now”?
This is really true, how can a player set goals or reach any “further” as a chess player, if he doesn’t know where “further” is? For example, how can you expect a player to improve their rating if he doesn’t know how rating works or what it is?
All of these things are explained by the chess coach, and this is one of the reasons why is so important when people are starting.
Knowing the level, you have can motivate you to improve, can help set clear goals to the levels you want to reach. This will give you a more reliable, and measurable path to follow, where you can see how much you have improved.
This makes you feel a lot more comfortable and clears out the way making it a lot easier to follow. This way you should the only possible way that you don’t improve is by not training anymore.
Effective methodology and training strategies
We have mentioned before that is not about how much time you study, but HOW you study. This is a huge piece of advice, eight hours of bad training results in time invested, a lot of fatigue, and no improvement at all.
But 1 hour of well-prepared, content-rich, and organized training will mark the difference between you and the regular player.
A chess coach can indicate to you how to study correctly, and even more, adjust the study techniques personally for you. That way the coach is optimizing your training, making you seize training at maximum.
A good chess coach is well-prepared to see your mistakes on the spot and redirecting you to fix them. You can be sure a chess coach counts with all of the pedagogical tools, and techniques to make you improve your trajectory.
The coach’s duty will be to tell you what you are doing correct or wrong, what you should improve, and how to do it. Having a chess coach will grant you the privilege of having a professional opinion on all of these topics.
Which is also beneficial, many times we are not the appropriate person to formulate opinions about ourselves, or simply are distorted. A chess coach can be totally objective, assuming the spectator role, and evaluating our performance with cold eyes.
When you are training with a coach you will get extra motivated to improve your level and will give you a boost on training. It’s crazy for you to think that you will not improve when you have a chess coach.
You will have a different feeling when training, you will feel that you can count on a coach that is looking after you. And that is not a lie, that’s the duty of a good chess coach! Actually a coach in any area.
If you keep training with the coach you will feel that you must improve, not only for yourself but for the relationship you have with the coach. You know that your coach has expectations for you, and you will be motivated to accomplish them.
That is how coaches work, is not only about the actual training, but is also about how much you invest in the other person. Not precisely talking about the money, but the time you will spend together training, and nourishing their communication.
This will not only make you better at chess, but it will also make it a better experience for you, and that is really important.
Two minds think better than one!
Of course, is not the same making all of the work by yourself as working with other people. Professional chess players train with other people, and a chess coach will tell you all of the parts that you are thinking in the thinking process.
The coach will not tell you everything, because you must learn how to think by yourself. However, the coach will guide you so you can get to the solution always, and that way will always be better.
You will have the opportunity to exchange ideas with another passion for the game and has more experience than you. Imagine you are solving a really difficult chess puzzle, but you can find the solution, the coach may give you a hint.
Something that will not solve the problem for you, but it will make you have a better flow of ideas, and give you the necessary little push. In this particular case, the coach will monitor your actions, to make sure that your effort is really paying off.
This applies to all of the stages of the game, preparing for tournaments, studying, or analyzing your games. The coach will always have you present on the study and will develop more and more strategies to improve your learning process.
Getting a group to train
When you are training with the chess coach, which you will probably find in chess clubs, you will meet other chess players. Or at least, your coach will take care of finding opponents for your, and other players you can establish a relationship with, which is always beneficial.
This way you will be able to form groups to make other activities that could make your chess experience better. You will have people to study with, people to discuss chess, and someone to play a friendly game that is always nice!
Even if you don’t think so, all of these things can improve incredibly your chess. That’s why most chess masters among the elite have other chess players as friends, to discuss the study and interact with.
Whenever you need help quickly you can go to them and ask questions if needed. Once, I was in a tournament, with some of my colleagues, and had forgotten about an important move about the opening I had prepared before my match started.
I went to one of my friends and asked “hey do you remember which was the move in this line?” and he told me the move. Finally, I could play my opening with no trouble, I had forgotten a key move, and my friend helped me.
This is just a simple case in which a chess partner can help you. But of course, being with other players at my level really nurtured my chess.
Opportunities to play in tournaments and practices
When you are with the chess coach, he will make sure that you find opportunities to play with other people at your level. When you are taking classes with a chess coach, a common practice is to make your students play against each other.
Or looking for appropriate opportunities so they can go to tournaments and rated events, tournaments are important for the improvement. This way you can find tournaments to test your skills, and not only that but the advice on competitive chess.
People think that playing chess on the street is the same as playing in a tournament, and they couldn’t be more wrong. The tournament player has to learn to deal with pressure, accomplish tournaments rules, and manage the tense environment.
The emotions and experiences are so different, and there is no fair point comparison between them. All of this advice you will receive from any chess coach, but also is important because there are so many people struggling because they can’t find any tournaments.
This is really sad, the truth is one needs to be at competitions to improve and even to maintain your level. It’s not the same going out looking for tournaments not knowing where you can even find them than having a coach do it for you.
Chess coaches are normally masters or FIDE trainers. This means they will have connections so they can spot tournaments for you to play.
When you look at the board you have your vision and you have to rely on it, but how about having the vision of a master to help out? This will be infinitely better. When you solve a puzzle or choose a move, you have to count on yourself to think is right, in chess analysis, this is really infective.
There are practices in which I have asked my students to analyze a position and give me their evaluation. Then, we can take a look at everyone’s analysis and conclusions.
Finally, after we listened to everyone’s opinions we come to a final judgment on the position, and everyone learns from everyone’s ideas. This practice has shown incredible results on the students’ improvement in chess, it has shown to be a really worth to do this.
It’s simply like taking all of the ideas and have them mix, so they nurture all of us, myself included.
Understanding your level
Understanding your own level is an important part to get better at chess, that way you can adapt yourself. You can know which rivals are appropriate for you, which books are appropriate for you, and what kind of training will be more beneficial.
It’s really necessary to know how to adapt your training and methods to something that really fits your level. Otherwise, you could be too burned out without having great results from that training.
People who are struggling with the level they are currently are seen every day at different levels. One must have something to measure with, something to check from time to time that you have improved in some areas or not.
You can keep training but at some point get stuck, even if you feel you are progressing, you may be at the same level anyway. The only way you can know this is by comparing yourself with something so you can make yourself an idea of what is going on.
A chess coach counts with the vision and the tools to tell you if you have improved or not. The coach will also test you in many different ways to know exactly where the improvement is or needs to be depending on the conclusions.
Remember that the chess player needs methodology, training, books, techniques, and ways of study according to their level. This is why is important to keep track of the progression of the student, know if he needs greater challenges, or slowing down the pace.
Tools and elements of study
Have you seen how much is any chess book online? Or chess boards? Classes? Databases? All of this you will need if you want to study chess properly by yourself, and you will have to spend money on all of this.
However, chess coaches will provide you all of these tools and even better material created by them. This will be a lot better considering that you will be taking their course, and this can be surprisingly good for your chess.
So, the same money that you will pay in a coach, you will have to pay for books that you will have to figure out on yourself. Instead, you could pay for chess lessons and have free material along with the purchase of the course, or the lessons you chose.
It’s also something to consider if you don’t have any board nor books, any chess coach can provide you with that. There are many chess coaches (myself included) who offer personalized material and exclusive content to their students.
And this is not a random chess course that you find online, which everyone could interpret in his own way. This is a specialized course, given by the person who thought all of it, a chess content explained by the person who made it.
Who could explain the book “My great predecessors” by Garry Kasparov better than Kasparov himself?
As you have seen along with these 10 reasons why you should get a chess coach, the labor of the coach is not simply to “teach chess”. It’s something that goes beyond that, as a teacher, one is preparing the future of chess.
And the list of “duties” of the coach in any area simply goes on and on, something that is an unforgettable experience. The coach always will do the best efforts for their students, is not simply giving out a service.
It helps you improve in more areas, not only in chess but to give you advice, look out for your psychological preparation (which is also part of chess). And in the particular case of chess, the lessons you learn here will be useful for life in general. It’s incredible how many similarities you can find between a board and life.
Not being alone at tournaments and competitions will play a fundamental role, being companied by your coach motivates. Being able to be part of a team and looking after it makes you feel that you are part of something. You are doing something more than just playing a game.
There are many ways to get a chess coach to work with you, and the options are a little different from the other. For example, you could get a chess coach in a chess club, and you could try to find one in your area.
However, you can also hire a chess coach online, which is different, and this is a great alternative too. What would the best option be for you is something that you will have to decide by yourself.
It will depend on how comfortable you feel with one option or the other, we could make a simple comparison to help you decide:
Getting a chess coach near you
This will be in case you have a chess club or know about any chess coach near your area, which is not always the case. But having a chess coach that you can see face to face is the ideal, that interaction with the coach helps to transmit the ideas.
But you will probably have to go to a chess club, or going to the coach’s place, or rarely have your coach coming to your house.
Getting a chess coach online
The main advantage of taking chess lessons online is that you can do it from the comfort of your home. And, you will get communication with your chess coach online, of course, you will need a microphone to use with your computer.
Also, you will have access to a large catalog of chess coaches who offer their services online. And is really easy to sign up, you literally can sign up for chess lessons with me now right here!
What does a chess coach do?
Defining the work of a chess coach is really difficult, we could say that a coach is a lot of things in one. A chess coach is a teacher, a guide, someone who will help you learn all of what’s necessary to succeed, in this case, at chess.
A chess coach will be the one in charge of looking after your chess improvement and find new ways you can improve. Having a chess coach can be highly beneficial for your chess, and for starters is something necessary for people.
The good chess coach will be interested in your improvement, and the more you know each other, the better it can work out for both. Don’t get confused, even if you get a coach doesn’t mean that you won’t have to do anything.
If you and your coach are going to function together both must be willing to do the correspondent effort.
Is a chess coach really necessary?
To be completely transparent, you don’t need a chess coach, but it will definitely make your life a lot easier. Having a chess coach will make the process a lot easier in comparison to simply do it on your own.
If you really want to improve you should hire a chess coach. He or she will provide you with knowledge, strategy, training methods, and more things that it would take so long for you to figure out by yourself.
Not to mention that having a chess coach will open so many different doors for you in chess depending on your goals. We could state that having a chess coach will make your experience a lot more pleasant, and you will definitely not regret it.
There are many chess coaches for different kinds of players, and you don’t simply need to stick with one. When the chess player reaches a certain level it will not be necessary for a coach, the player learns how to improve by himself/herself.
However, a company or assistance of any kind will definitely give you good results, indifferently of the level you are at.
Everything will depend on the coach that you choose, a grandmaster will obviously charge you more than an FM. Normally, a grandmaster will charge around 50$ to 70$ per hour, while an IM or an FM from 20$ to 40$ per hour.
It will also depend on what the course comes with, sometimes chess coaches offer more benefits, and that counts. You should analyze what you are being offered, and consider the things that you need and you don’t need.
It will also depend on how much you are willing to invest in your chess classes. In case you are rich, you can simply hire the best grandmaster in the world to coach you.
But of course, not everyone has the possibility of hiring the best of the best, because it will cost a lot of money. However, if you are a beginner you don’t need a top-class chess master to improve your chess.
A regular chess coach will do unless you are planning on becoming the world champion someday. But even so, if you are new to chess and want to know the basics to get into tournament chess you don’t have to invest that much money.
Also, remember that a chess coach can be good for you, but maybe is not good for others, not everyone learns the same way. It’s important to establish a connection with the coach and have good communication so you can work out.
Which leads me to the next point, how do you know that hiring a chess coach is really paying off?
How to get the best chess coach for you?
There are many things that a good chess coach must do. Coaching is not simply playing with your student and telling them the mistakes, anyone can do that for free.
A chess coach will analyze the student’s games, and try to recreate their ideas, know what were the ideas he had in mind. This way the chess coach will know what the mistakes of the student are and figure out where the mistakes are.
After that, the coach’s duty is to develop ideas to fix those mistakes, have you understand them, and eliminate them. This is just one of the tasks chess coaches do, we could resume it like “entering the student’s head”.
If you have a coach that is just meaninglessly giving you chess puzzles and have you play games, you should get a new coach.
It’s not only about finding the coach that will make you feel comfortable, but also about a coach that gives you greater challenges. If you are in love with chess, you already have talent, as coaches, we need to give shape to that talent.
It will also be about how it works best for you, that is something that you shouldn’t ignore. If you prefer a coach that will give you resources and make you solve it on your own, that is one thing, and that may be good for you.
But there are other kinds of students that require explanations and really take time for them to understand.
So, there is also something else now: Figuring out what kind of student you are.
This is just for you to know that the process isn’t as simple as playing some games and turning on the computer to see a game’s mistakes. This will also take us to the next point of the matter…
Many chess players start training by themselves, which is very respectable, and also is effective. However, most chess players get into chess books without knowing how to correctly study them.
And most of the chess players start using a chess engine without really knowing how to use it either. The problem with this is that players usually get used to using the engine in a certain way, and it may not be the most effective of all.
I’ve had students that are extremely dependent on the computer, and they don’t really know that harms their chess. Computers will never play like humans, and that is why we can’t be so reliable on chess computers.
The computer was created for analysis and understanding, especially to improve the technique, and not letting slip advantage. But we can’t rely on the computer to teach us human chess, ideas, concepts, and practical advice to improve our game.
You have to see it like this: The computer speaks a different language than you, you can’t really understand what it’s saying. You need a translator, an expert in this language, a chess coach, to tell you what it is saying.
What should I expect from hiring a chess coach?
Many people hire a chess coach expecting instant improvement on chess or improving really fast without doing anything. Not because you hired a chess coach means that you will improve instantly, and improvement is not assured if you don’t work.
Some people may even think that hiring a chess coach will make work a lot easier, but it’s the other way around. Hiring a chess coach will make you work even harder, getting better means working and studying better.
A chess coach will make it more comfortable in some areas, like having someone prepare the lessons for you. But you will have to work and study hard, be pushed to the limits, that is the only way to genuinely improve.
Expect bigger challenges, and expect working hard, if you do, you can also expect to improve and increase your rating.
Can you reach a good level without a chess coach?
Finally, we will answer this question for good, you can reach a very high level on your own, you can probably get titled. However, there is a certain level, where it will be really hard to improve on your own, where you will get easily stuck.
There must be someone to teach you the techniques of the masters. Those practical things that separate masters from amateurs, things that will be very difficult to figure out on your own.
But you can reach a good level of course, but it would be a lot easy to do so with a chess coach. There are so many things that you will have to learn on your own, and at some point, you will have to consult other people.
But the power of the internet is not to blame, there is a lot of information out there for free, that could be useful.