Thursday, October 10, 2013

Establishing a Coaching Philosophy

Coaching at any level requires not only developing skills and technical aspects of the sport, but personal development of your athletes. Attributes such as confidence, trust, teamwork, respect and character, which are developed on the field, can be carried over into your athletes’ everyday lives. One way to help build a team that best reflects who you are or what you are trying to build is by having a good coaching philosophy.

A good coaching philosophy allows you to establish the work ethic and standards you would like to ask of your program or team, beyond just winning and losing. Your coaching philosophy will be guided by your beliefs, values and experiences. Implementing this level of expectation early on will help:
  1. Establish team rules. 
  2. Define the way in which you build relationships with your athletes. 
  3. Provide tools for managing stress and emotional situations. 
  4. Support the overall goals you would like your team or athletes to accomplish while being coached under your tenure.
A coaching philosophy is like a road map to help you navigate through the season. When, half way through a season, a parent asks why their child is on the bench while a lesser skilled player gets more playing time, you can draw on the coaching philosophy which you established early on to explain your decision and in so doing, avoid disgruntled parents. By establishing rules concerning playing time, everyone will be on the same page, leaving no doubt in terms of what is expected from each team member in order to get playing time.

A good philosophy also encompasses the way in which you approach the sport. This will allow athletes to understand where they fit within your coaching system, and what skills they need to develop in order to contribute to the success of the team. This leads into the area of setting goals and expectations for the team. Whether this involves approaching the season one game at a time, or whether it has to do with establishing a long-term approach, understanding and communicating your expectations and goals will ensure that there are no surprises or frustration when the going gets tough. It will also keep the team focused since goals have been established and are clear, no matter the outcome of the games.

To develop a successful coaching philosophy,
  1.  Identify your values and beliefs 
  2.  Establish objectives, priorities and responsibilities 
  3.  Develop a coaching method 
  4.  Establish team rules and consequences 
Your athletes are likely to reflect the person you are, rather than who you want them to be, so know yourself. Establish your own philosophy and not that of another coach, since you know your own style best of all. Knowing what you want out of the team and each individual within the team lets members know where they stand and what is expected of them. A good coaching philosophy establishes the guidelines to promote development both on the field and off the field. Most of all, have fun coaching and your athletes will have fun being coached by you.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Developing a Coaching Philosophy. BC Coach's Perspective. Summer2011 2011;:14-15. 
2. Camiré M, Trudel P, Forneris T. Coaching and Transferring Life Skills: Philosophies and Strategies Used by Model High School Coaches. Sport Psychologist. June 2012;26(2):243-260. 
3. Nash C, Sproule J, Horton P. Sport Coaches' Perceived Role Frames and Philosophies. International Journal Of Sports Science & Coaching. December 2008;3(4):538-554. 
4. Parsh D. 8 Steps to a Coaching Philosophy. Coach & Athletic Director. April 2007;76(9):56-57. 
5. Robbins J, Houston E, Dummer G. Philosophies and Expectations of Wheelchair and Stand-up Collegiate Basketball Coaches. Journal Of Sport Behavior. March 2010;33(1):42-62. 
6. Smelley R. The Value Of A Coaching Philosophy. Track Coach. Summer2013 2013;(204):6506-6513. 
7. Thibert H. Developing Your Coaching Philosophy. Olympic Coach. Fall2008 2008;20(4):24-26. 
8. Van Mullem P, Brunner D. Developing a Successful Coaching Philosophy: A Step-by-Step Approach. Strategies (08924562). May 2013;26(3):29-34.

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