The Importance of Building Rapport on the Floor

I feel that the greatest strengths that any martial art school can have, is the quality of instruction that they offer to their students. Let’s face it, an instructor is only as good as their last class. Meaning that what ever perspective a student had when they left their last class, is the way they now feel about your school. It only takes a few “bad” classes before a student starts to lose enthusiasm for your program.

I always tell my instructors that a student should leave our classes with the same feeling as if they just left Disney World. Our classes should be the most exciting part of a student’s day. If we do a great job on the floor, a student should always leave wanting more! Teaching a high energy class is only part of accomplishing this goal. Giving the student a feeling that we also have a personal interest in their success, making them feel a connection through the student – instructor relationship, and frankly that we even know that they exist, will bring to them a sense of confidence in us as their instructors, a feeling of connection, an a willingness to give us their best performance.


This can only be accomplished by the willingness of the owners and instructors to have an open mind, understanding that there is always the need to continue to learn and improve their instruction, and to give their students their best performance. Learning to build a rapport with your students should be part of every schools plan in providing super customer service. Paying attention to detail in class management with drills for skills, mat chats, A/B days, and high energy classes is only part of the equation to insure that a student can’t wait to come back for their next class. By constantly trying to find ways to build better rapport with your students, you will find that your student’s level of interest will increase leading to better performance in their technique, developing more confidence in them selves, and improving their retention.

Here is a simple technique to help your instructors continue to better service your students by building rapport on the floor!

The Three Contacts

There are three ways that we should make contact with each of our students in each class that they attended. The first is by using the one word that everyone loves to hear the most, their name. Make sure your instructors know every name of all of your students, and that they use each students name in their class. As they are giving their one second compliments, have them simply use the student’s name. “Good job Timmy!”, “Nice kicks Sarah!”, “Looking good Chelsea!”. Use these one second compliments and call the students names at any time they are performing in the class. This acknowledgement will motivate them to try even harder, giving you 100% effort and making them feel that you care enough to notice their performance.

The next contact is by using a physical pat on the shoulder (only the shoulders!) to show that you are noticing or acknowledging them. This can be done when an instructor is walking the lines and giving them a one second compliment or simply when an instructor is walking by a student in the school. A pat on the shoulders as you say “How are you today”, “You were great in class today!”, or “Wow, your kicks were awesome in class!” will go along way to let your students know that you are aware of their performance and make them feel rewarded.

Finally, eye contact is very important in building rapport when speaking to any group of people. Making eye contact with someone when speaking to a group, even if it is for just for a second, will make a powerful connection between you and that member of your audience and will help keep the interest of the participant in what you are saying. When addressing a group, train yourself to make eye contact with as many people as possible, scan the entire room and remember when making eye contact with people in the back of the audience, you appear to be looking at more of the entire group. Making eye contact will insure that that the participants feel that you are talking to them, that they are a part of what you are saying, and that you care.