Learning the rules of chess is fairly straightforward. But, to get to a level where you can beat beginners and average players requires dedication and learning. Today, I will explain everything you need to know about becoming a chess coach.
To become a good chess instructor, follow these points:
- Get a good and provable chess rating
- Deciding what to charge for your coaching and how it will work
- Setting up how people will pay for your coaching
- Getting students/clients for your chess coaching
- Improving your skills as a coach and improving the quality of your coaching
- Continuing to do marketing
Let’s look at each one in detailed
1. Get a good and provable chess rating
As you may know, there are chess ratings. To get your chess rating, you need to play online on a website that tracks it. Or, you need to compete in person tournaments that track your chess rating.
Getting a rating from the biggest chess organizations like the International Chess Federation (FIDE) can also be a good idea. To get a FIDE rating, you need to score a minimum of half points against five FIDE-rated players; your scores only count towards the rating if they are 1000 or above in less than 26 months.
You can do this by attending an in-person tournament registered with FIDE. There are many tournaments held in person in virtually every country. In the information for the tournament, it will be stated whether it’s registered with FIDE or not.
At one of these tournaments, there will be players without a FIDE rating and players with a FIDE rating. To be eligible for a FIDE rating, you need to play against 5 players with a FIDE rating and score a half point in each game (source: FIDE.com).
Chess.com has provided details about what level each of the different ranks is in chess. Here’s a table that shows this info as a summary:
|1200 to 1399||Beginner|
|1400 to 1599||Average club or tournament player|
|1600 to 1799||Consistently above average. Wins more than 50% of the time.|
|1800 to 1999||Very dedicated player. Knows far more about the game than an average player.|
|2000 to 2199||Expert|
|2200 to 2399||Consistently wins amateur tournaments. The best player at the club. Considered a master at the game|
|2400 to 2499||Plays in International tournaments. Will easily beat masters|
|2500+||Grandmaster. Ridiculously good at the game. World champion-level skill|
For people to find it valuable to be coached by you in chess, you need to be better than them. For example, people very new to the game may or may not know the rules, such as what each chess piece can do.
However, to progress beyond that, they need to understand some concepts that will give them a framework for the game that can allow them to improve continually.
The International Chess Federation (FIDE) provides certification for what they call instructors. These, in practice, are the same as a coach and provide training to become an instructor. The instructors that are certified by them are broken down into the following categories:
|National Instructor||1201 to 1700|
|FIDE instructor||1701 to 2200|
|FIDE Senior instructor||Award for dedicated service over a long period of time|
Absolute beginners that get a FIDE rating will be around 1200. This is where they know the game’s rules but don’t necessarily have any idea about strategy. Such as good opens and how to set traps.
Beginners, in general, are looking for direction and help on how to improve at chess. And ways to improve faster rather than slower.
Another good move is to show you playing some lower-ranked players online and point out some of their mistakes. This will show how much better you are than beginners or players with a lower rank.
Having this and your FIDE rank and/or any certifications will show people that getting coaching from you is valuable. To summarize this step, you are trying to find tangible ways to show that getting coaching from you is worthwhile.
2. Deciding what to charge for your coaching and how it will work
There are a few different ways to offer coaching. You can do a pack of coaching sessions, or you can do one-offs. Ideally, for people to improve from your coaching, they will need multiple sessions. However, you can also offer your coaching in a ‘ask you anything’ format.
To make life easier, you can have some curricula already put together. Such as, different memorization techniques they can use, some opens to start with, and perhaps some cheat sheets with some hard and fast rules in certain situations.
The sky’s the limit with the methods you can use to help people to get better at chess. As you do more and more coaching, you will hone down different things they can do that will help them improve the fastest.
An option is to offer a pack of 5 to 10 coaching sessions. Such as, once a week or twice a week. And charge a fixed rate. Such as $30 an hour. There is no set rule about how much you should charge. It’s important to note that you should keep your prices reasonably low in the beginning until you have some students/clients.
Then you can increase your prices as you have more and more demand for your services. For example, you have 5 clients that want to sign up. But, you only have time for 4. You can increase your rates a little bit. Say from $30 per one-hour session to $35 per one-hour session.
You also decide on how much your max or minimum pricing will be and how much coaching you want to offer. How much coaching you offer will be based on your schedule and how much time you have. You can play this by ear weekly using a calendar to organize with your students when the coaching sessions are.
3. Setting up how people will pay for your coaching
You will need a way for people to pay for your coaching. Nowadays, this is very easy. You can use some of the well-known online payment systems like Paypal, or Stripe.
Both are free to set up and charge a small fee on every payment you receive. In my opinion, Paypal is a bit easier to set up than Stripe. And all things considered, they charge about the same fees.
To set up a Paypal account, you go to the main Paypal page and fill in all your info. From there, you can create an invoice and then send it to their email address to make payment. Afterwards, you can withdraw the funds from your Paypal account to a bank account. You also need to set up your bank account and verify, which takes a few days.
Coaching can largely be provided online, which is the easiest way. That way, you don’t need to travel to meet someone in person and can do the coaching calls over Skype, Zoom, Whatsapp, or Facebook.
The main thing is to do a few test runs so you know how you will show them the materials you want and how to share your screen so they can see it.
You can test it out with a friend to make sure everything works. Have customers with testimonials. Now that you can prove that you are good at chess, you should take on a few coaching clients.
Getting testimonials from your first few students
For your first few coaching clients, you should not be concerned with earning money from them. Instead, the focus should be on getting a testimonial from them. That way, you can take a screenshot of it and display it on your website. Or, on a page that you have where people can sign up for your coaching.
This makes people trust that your coaching will be good. And makes it a no-brainer for them to sign up for your coaching. Coaching often takes some time before your coaching clients will see results. So, expect this process to take a month or so. The aim should be to help them as much as possible and help them to get an improvement that can be measured.
For example, you could help them improve their rating by 200 points. And then show this info with dates with the testimonial. And also, have your previous coaching clients write something praising your services, and how much they improved because of your help.
It is difficult to get people to sign up for your services when you have no proof that you can help them. But, it is possible. You will have a much easier time, and your coaching clients will have a much easier time trusting your help if you have testimonials.
4. Getting students/clients for your chess coaching
At this point, you should have at least one testimonial that you can use as proof. Now, you will need to offer your services where people will need them. There are multiple ways to do this. And this falls under a topic known as marketing.
You can get people to consume some free content that you are providing, such as Youtube videos. Then at the end of the video, you can explain that you offer chess coaching, a little bit about how it works, and where they can sign up.
Another option is to pay a little bit of money to have someone who already has a big audience and get them to talk positively about your coaching and ask people to sign up.
For example, there may be a Youtube channel about chess where the person has a lot of subscribers. You can reach out to the person who owns the channel and ask them if they will promote your coaching for a fee. You will get a few people to sign up for your coaching.
When doing so, you can provide them with an email address so they can contact you. Another option is to buy a website and hosting and put a signup page. On the signup page, they will enter their contact details, and then you can send them a templated email that you have already written.
The good idea is to communicate with customers normally. Then, as you process more customers, creating templated responses will be more efficient. This will save time because you can copy and paste what they need, such as a payment link, and what happens after you receive their payment, rather than typing it out every time.
5. Continuing to do marketing – adding more marketing methods
Once you’ve got a few clients and everything is going well, a good idea to keep your chess coaching business going and make it very easy to get new customers is to add marketing methods.
There are many different marketing methods. Creating a Youtube video is one of the most common things that would work well for a chess coaching business. Youtube channels take some time to grow. But, because you’ll be playing chess in your spare time anyway, why not do breakdowns, and live videos.
Then at the end of every Youtube video, you can say something along the lines of
If you’re interested in getting coaching from me, send me an email at ____. Or visit this link to fill out your email, and I’ll send you an email to discuss how the coaching works.
Other methods would be to join chess clubs, where you can let people know about your Youtube channel, go to chess tournaments, and hand out flyers. The main thing is to choose marketing methods that work well for your coaching business.
Some marketing methods like direct mail can be difficult for a chess coaching business. The reason is it’s hard to find a list of people to send mail to that would be interested in your services.
6. Improving your skills as a coach – improving the quality of your coaching
Many good sports and strategy game coaches have coached world champions and sports teams that have won national and international tournaments.
They often have a lot of insights they have learned over the years. And many good books can give you ideas and inspiration for things to try to improve the results your coaching clients get.
There are also various books from Chess Grandmasters where that explains the strategy behind how they play. On top of that, organizations like the International Chess Federation (FIDE) hold workshops and training periodically throughout the year.
You can attend these to improve your skills as a coach.
What Rating Should You Be To Teach Chess?
To teach something, you need to be better at it than the person you teach. But, there are many different skill levels in chess, so it can be hard to know how good you need to teach chess. Here’s what rating you need to be to teach chess.
As a general rule, over 1200 rating is ideal to be a chess coach. The minimum requirement to be an International Chess Federation coach is 1200. A coach over this level is called a Developmental Instructor. An average club and tournament player has a rating of around 1400 to 1600.
The next milestone to being a certified International Chess Federation coach is a National Instructor. They can teach people who have a rank of 1201 to 1700. To be eligible to coach people of this rank, you should at least have a rank of 1700.
However, there is no requirement to be a certified instructor with the International Chess Federation. So, provided your rank is above the people you are coaching, there will be something you can teach them.