The Power Of Focus – Or Why I Don’t Do Chess Coaching

Since starting my blog I got tons of requests for private Chess Coaching. It makes me very happy to hear that some of you see me as a good fit as your Chess Coach. Sadly, I have to decline all those requests.

In this article, I want to explain why.

Do not get me wrong. I absolutely love Coaching. I started very early doing so.

Already 14 years I started to help out as a Coach in my first Chess Club in Bern.

As I was already stronger than most of the Coaches, but still wanted to be part of the Junior training, I just went to the Coaching side of things.

Obviously, I had no idea what I was doing, but I was enjoying the experience of sharing my knowledge with others. That wish to share things with others also made me start the blog and keeps me going.

Since then, I have always switched between phases where I was Coaching and phases where I was not. It is something I really like, but also something that takes a lot of time and energy if you want to do it right.

I am pretty sure that I will get into a Coaching role sometime in my life again. It is only a temporary decision.

Now let me go into why I feel now is not the right moment to do so.

Focus On One Thing At A Time

I had a big “aha” moment when I was listening to yet another The Tim Ferriss Show Podcast episode about 1.5 years ago (if you haven’t started listening to this podcast yet, then what are you doing with your life? :-)).

His guest, Entrepreneur, Author, and all-around amazing guy Derek Sivers said something along the lines of “you can reach anything, but not everything”.

The whole episode (my favorite of over 200 I’ve listened to…) is wisdom packed and I encourage you to take the 2 hours and listen to it.

If you just want to get to the point, then start at 1hr 54 Minutes when he starts to talk about the advice to his younger self. I had to laugh out when he said his advice would be “don’t be a donkey”.

Already for that laugh, it is worth it to check it out shortly.

He recommends fully focusing on one thing at a time while knowing that you can always get to other things later on.

This is way better than trying to do everything at the same time and not making any progress anywhere.

When listening to this interview I was exactly trying to do everything, but not really making huge progress in anything. I was:

Needless to say, I was pretty stressed out at the time. Cutting out one thing after another, I had only my own Chess to be taken care of starting in 2021.

I felt I had the energy for one more thing and thus started the blog. That’s it.

I’m definitely still a work in progress. Nearly daily I have the temptation to start new projects. I’m just interested in so many things. But with that knowledge, I can avoid further damage and stop myself from doing too many things.

Some of you might also understand my thoughts about openings now. Instead of trying out 10 different openings and not making any progress in any of them, I am trying to whole-ass one at a time.

Only if I master one, I will move on to the next.

Coaching Done Right Is Hard

While the above paragraph would already be enough of an explanation, I want to get still a bit deeper.

Coaching done right is hard. As I have written in my extensive article on finding your perfect Coach, there are two types of Coaches.

The ones that Coach because it is what they want to do, and others that Coach to make (easy) money.

Actually, doing the latter is really pretty easy.

I can just give my own files to students, neglecting their different styles. Let them solve some puzzles that former Coaches of mine made me solve at the time. The list goes on and on.

I basically have no preparation time.

This is the least effort way of Coaching.

But I absolutely hate that way.

I don’t want to say that you are a bad human being if you do so. But you might consider changing your approach.

Being chosen as a Coach should be seen as a privilege to guide somebody on their path to improvement. Please do not take this lightly.

It is sad to see that some people use their achievements as players to earn easy money as a Coach.

It happens way too much. And it has to stop. How you can avoid getting such a Coach I explained in finding your perfect Chess Coach.

The point I am trying to make is:

The right way of Coaching needs much more commitment. You need to constantly think about your student’s needs.

  • What could be a great opening for him? Is it one that really fits his playing style?
  • How can I make sure his daily life does not influence his results too strongly?
  • How am I adjusting my training now that I know of some shit going on in his private life?

Taking into account all the facets of Coaching really uses me mentally. And I believe every Coach would agree that it needs strong focus and a lot of energy.

As I already have a hard time understanding my own needs as a player and human being, there is no way I can connect playing professionally and Coaching the right way.

If I am in a tournament I am in a bubble. There is no chance I can help out my students at this time in the way I would like to do so.

Coaching as a side project works. But not if I want to do it the way I want to do it.

You might think of some players that are also Coaching very successfully. I would say 90% of them see their own chess just as a hobby and would not call them professional players anymore.

Coaching fully and playing some chess as a side project can also work. I just don’t see how one human being can be a great Coach while still pursuing his Chess Career with high intensity and Goals.

Where Do I Have The Biggest Impact?

When I was ready to pick up that one more thing next to playing professionally, I had one key question in mind: where do I have the biggest impact?

If I had unlimited time and energy, surely I would get into Coaching again. But that is simply not the case. Life is about setting priorities and making the right trade-offs.

It feels unreal to write this, but at the moment of writing, I reach around 30’000 of you every month with my Blog. I am grateful to any single one of you for taking the time to read my articles, for your support, and for your kind words.

So I feel writing another blog post simply has a bigger impact than taking on private lessons.

Furthermore, some of the readers can pass along knowledge gained from this blog to friends, their students, or even their kids.

I want to use this multiplier, even if it means losing out on short-term financial profits.

Once written, the blog posts are out there for eternity.

It is a nice thought that these posts can help people 5, 10, or 50 years from now.


To summarize it all, not Coaching comes down to three main points:

  • Focusing on one point at a time (which is my professional Chess Career for now)
  • Doing Coaching right is hard
  • Writing Blog posts is reaching more people than 1:1 Coaching

It has absolutely nothing to do with you if I say no to Coaching you.

That is simply a decision I made to make sure the blog and my own chess have the highest quality possible. Remember Quality before Quantity!

For those of you that would still like a more personal connection, there is a possibility.

I’m sending out a Newsletter every Friday. You can sign up to get a FREE Guide on Top. I also read and reply to any mail I get. So feel free to get in contact by sending me your questions or feedback.

I am also currently brainstorming content ideas to help you in an even more effective/personal way. Feel free to suggest an idea if you have one! Current ideas include:

  • Video-Courses
  • Group Lessons
  • Q&A’s

Whenever such an idea would come to life, the Newsletter will also be the best way to get informed quickly.

So let us keep in touch, even if I have to decline your Coaching request.


I firmly believe that

anyone can improve their chess through the right mindset and training techniques.

I’m here to guide you on your journey to chess mastery.

Related articles:

Stay Up to Date

by signing up to my e-mail newsletter

Enter your email address below to sign up for receiving all my new insights, articles, books & courses

– a very short mail, without fluff or Spam

Thousands of readers and students

have already boosted their ratings and derive greater enjoyment from the game

Each week

you will receive an update on all my new articles, books & courses A very short mail, without fluff or Spam Just a little reminder to keep improving your chess.