Anyone who has ever sat down to plan out a bespoke flooring plan can attest to the difficulty involved. From measuring to find the total square metres to discovering that the flooring you’ve bought will need to be cut to fit, you’ll have to juggle several factors when you’re looking to purchase new athletic mats for your training centre.
Throw in the fact that you’re setting up a training space where people will be tossed about, and you’ve got another level of headaches involved. You want to maximise the amount of space that you have, allowing the largest group of students in every training session. But you need to temper that desire with a much more sobering one—you need to create a safe environment for your athletes to train in, and, therefore, there needs to be a buffer space around every athlete to avoid injuries.
The last issue that might affect the physical layout of bespoke athletic mats is the need to accommodate for social distancing. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, several martial arts clubs have changed their floor layout to spread out the athletes and to protect against transmission.
By altering the layout of your space, you’re effectively creating a safe space for athletes to train with assurance. This article is going to introduce some challenges that you might come across in laying out your mats, giving examples of floor layouts using the 40mm Judo Mat 1mx1m for both Judo training centres and competitions.
At British Martial Arts Mats, we offer 40mm Judo mats in both 1mx1m and 2mx1m sizes. The 1mx1m mats are lighter, easier to move, and come in handy when you’re looking to fit them in a tight space. The 2mX1m are great for covering more space and are also incredibly convenient to move. Both are made from high density PU foam wrapped in vinyl with a non-slip base.
Try to consider incorporating several colours into your layout. Since the 40mm Judo Mats come in a wide variety of colours, you can designate specific spots for activity, using the contrasting colours to point people in the right direction even before training starts.
Randori Mat Set Up
Randori, the primary expression of training in Judo, is a free flowing time to develop an athlete’s technique. It’s a proving ground for both new and experienced judokas, offering opportunities to spar against more advanced martial artists. There’s no winner or loser in randori, so there’s an emphasis on spontaneity, freedom to try new things.
Some things might have changed in the last few years, but the heart and soul of training has not. Learning timing, acquiring techniques, and building endurance are still important in randori sessions. Although some training sessions may have less contact or limited contact, those same principals will still guide future training.
Here are some key considerations when setting up a training centre:
1.5 Square Metres Buffer Space- Make sure that, at minimum, there is 1.5m around each participant.
1 Square Metre Training Space Under 12- For those students who are under the age of 12, they need a little over a metre square to train in.
4 Square Metres Training Space Over 12- Judoka over the age of 12 need at least four square metres of space to train in.
Add a Splash of Colour- You have the opportunity to make your gym anything you want it, so why choose mats in a single colour. Multiple coloured mats not only look sharp, but having different coloured mats can differentiate different spaces. For example, having all your peripheral walkways in a different colour can help people to keep social distancing by following proper paths through the mats. This is especially helpful in competitions, where the outside of the ring is delineated in a different colour.
1. 12mX7m Mat Setup- Perfect For Junior Athletes (Under 12 Years Old)
Let’s look at the 12mx 7m mat setup which is pictured above1. Each young athlete has their own self-contained three metre square space to train in, allowing for the proper social distancing guidelines. The coach has twelve metres square area, and this allows room to give instruction and to show new techniques.
Around each separate training space is a 1m walkway for the participants, which allows the participants to exit the training space in a way that allows for social distancing. This setup only works if there’s at least a two metres between the edge of the mats and the wall.
Having different colours to differentiate between different areas can be especially helpful for members of your club. It also takes some of the pressure off of the trainers to enforce the rules as each colour delineates a specific space—one for walking, another to train on, and one specifically for the coach. Each of the colours used for the diagram—green, yellow, blue, and black—is available for the 1mX1m Judo mats offered by British Martial Arts Mats.
The smaller sized training space can also be incredibly beneficial if your training space is temporary. If you need to tear down your mats at the end of every session, you’ll want less total mats to put away at the end of the night.
Benefits of the 12mX7m Setup
-Tonnes of space for training youth under the age of 12
-Large enough walkways for participants
Downsides of the 12X7m Setup
-Less visibility for the coaches. With two students on either side of their peripheral vision, coaches may have a tough time scanning the room.
-Ideal for a smaller club, but is inefficient for a larger floor space.
Total Square Metres- 84
Total Mats Needed- 84
1. 12mX7m Mat Set Up- Over 12 Years of Age
With larger athletes, there needs to be more space around them to provide a safe place to practise. For athletes over the age of 12, give them at least 4m2 space to train, with a 1m border around that to provide a buffer space. This setup is perfect for older athletes who are training advanced techniques.
Since there is a need for more training space, there aren’t any walkways leading to the front of the training centre. In order to properly manage interruption, have your athletes exit by either talking the yellow walkway to the sides, or step off the back of the mats. Just like the 12 and under setup above, you’ll need to have space around your mats to make it work. You should have at least 2m between your mats and the wall to allow for ease of movement.
Benefits of the 12X7 Setup for Over 12
-Lots of space for each athlete to train
-1m walkway to mitigate interruptions to training
Downsides of the 12X7m Setup for Over 12
-Only enough room for three athletes to train
-Wasted space in the coaching zone.
Total Square Metres- 84
Total Mats Needed- 84
1. 15mX9m Mat Set Up- Under 12
This set up allows for both more students and more room to train. If you have a large training centre, this setup might be the most beneficial to your athletes and coaches. Every junior judoka is visible in the coach’s field of vision, allowing the coach to quickly assess which students need the most help. This is especially beneficial when working with students who are under the age of 12, who are still learning body position, adjusting their centre of gravity, and developing core skills. These students need an extra amount of attention to help them figure out those movements which are intuitive to more advanced students.
The central walkway at the front gives the opportunity for students to enter through the sides to get to the centre, which helps to separate the space and avoid against disruptions.
Benefits of the 15X9m Mat Set Up- Under 12
-Straightforward, uncomplicated design
-All the students are within the coach’s line of sight.
Downsides of the 15X9m Mat Set Up- Under 12
-Unused space in the coaching zone, but could be used for other coaches to help.
Total Square Metres- 135
Total Mats Needed- 135
4.15X9m Mat Setup- Over 12
This larger training area is perfect to fit a group of 6 adults in for training. This set up is perfect for bespoke mats which are installed close to walls. The reason for this is that there is a central walkway that allows for movement through the mats while not disrupting the other athletes. If possible, try to keep at least 1.5 metres the edge of the mats and the wall to protect your athletes.
-Perfect when installed against walls
-Might be harder for the coach to properly view the athletes that are the farthest away from them.
Total Square Metres- 135
Total Mats Needed- 135
Competition Judo Ring
The picture above illustrates the amount of space that’s needed for one competition Judo ring. Safety is a major priority in martial arts, and the buffer zone around the contest area shows how important athlete’s safety is to the British Judo Association. Around each contest area, there’s three metres of safety room, just in case an errant throw takes the competitors outside of the ring.
You’ll notice that there’s four metres of adjoining safety space around the ring. This doesn’t necessarily need to be made of mats, but instead it can be roped off, so that no one (except authorised individuals) can occupy it.
If you’d like to get more information, check out the article “2019 British Judo Tournament Handbook“2. Your first step if you’d like to host a Judo competition at your club is to contact the British Judo Association. They’ll be able to fill in any details that you might have about how to set up the mats, and so much more. In fact, in the handbook alone, they have everything from how to conduct weigh ins to naming the event, and they’re willing to help guide you as you set up competitions for your athletes.
There are a lot of things to consider when setting up your gym floor, especially with social distancing rules. It takes skill to utilise every centimetre of space that you have available. My advice for you is to look take a pencil, paper, and a ruler and map out your training centre floor. Properly scale your drawing by making each metre a centimetre on the paper. And draw out where you think each one of your athletes will stand. Draw from resources to plan out what your training centre floor will look like and use your imagination when picking different colours. This simple step to plan out your training centre flooring will save a great deal of grief later.
1. The mats listed in the Randori section are adaptations from “A Safe Return to Judo Guidance for Clubs” from the British Judo Association, pgs. 20-24 https://www.britishjudo.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Return-To-Judo-Guide-General-Advice.pdf. I’d suggest you check it out because it has a plethora of information.