A coaching philosophy is usually what defines a sports coach. You will see a lot of coaches talking about their philosophy. Louis Van Gaal mentioned it a lot during his short stint as manager of Machester United. But what is a coaching philosophy and why are they so important for sports coaches? In this post, I explore that very question.
One of the most important aspects of coaching is to have a Philosophy. Your club should definitely have one and so should each and every coach involved with the set-up. As a coach, you should have a guiding principle for training and coaching the team that you are in control of. A few bibs, some cones, and balls are not what I’m referring to here. The right attitude and coaching principle are what I’m referring to. Your philosophy will be ideas that determine everything you do as a coach; from how you speak to your players, how you handle the parents and communicate; and various other aspects all define your coaching style. The style in which you want your team to play. Your coaching philosophy will give you and your players an insight into what, as a coach you are all about.
What is a coaching philosophy?
A Coaching Philosophy is a set of values, governing principles and beliefs, which determine why you do what you do and how you behave in the context of your coaching role. You must ask yourself the Question, Why do I coach?
Why have a coaching philosophy?
Your philosophy should not just be something that you conjure in a given moment, it should be a long term project, in which you never stop learning and adding to along the way. You will see the benefits if you stick to the plan.
Stick to your philosophy
My coaching philosophy teaches success is many different ways, getting a group to play together, as a team, play to their very best, and reach their ultimate potential while having fun. As you gain more and more experience coaching, your style of play might change but how you coach, your core values, and beliefs as a person should stay the same. If you have a philosophy, the only thing that should change is what you believe in, never try to be anyone else.
Everyone talks about other coaching philosophies, adopting someone else’s won’t give your own identity. If you start you use words and actions taken from other coaches, that are not consistent with you, the players will expect the same in the future. If you expect your kids to behave in a certain with respect and dignity then you too must also behave the same. Coaching is about life skills, more than it is about you and/or the game.
Don’t let your standards drop and be consistent with everything you do. You will be respected you more for that. Everything you do will rub off on the players, that’s why it is so important to stick to your philosophy. The greatest managers in the world all stick to what they believe in and instill that into their players. Repeating the same things over and over again until the players themselves are the ones repeating it back to you.
Club Philosophy – Must be clear and concise
The philosophy of FC Barcelona is, “that the team is most important, the team is more important than any player (individuality) and the players have the obligation to meet and defend the IDEA of the CLUB”.
If a club has a philosophy and sticks to it, then a coach who is serious about developing his players will benefit from this. If a club does not have a philosophy or fails to stick to its beliefs then they are on the road to failure and disruption within the club. Each and every club should have a clear pathway from the junior teams through to the senior teams, this will be the key to the success, not to mention the respect the club gets amongst its peers and within the community.
No player, coach, manager or member is bigger than the club.
It is the club’s responsibility to challenge the players and progress them to the next level. Two of the reasons people play the game; is to have fun and improve. That’s why the philosophy should be the same from bottom to top in order to develop and maximise each and every playing members ability. Too often what happens within the club is coaches stay with the same year group each year, without a clear idea of what they need to teach in order to progress the players. Or they continue with the team, lacking the knowledge to teach a different age group. Either way, the players are the ones who are losing out and soon will be come disheartened with the game and give up altogether. The dropout of kids in Irish sport is huge and one of the main reasons is because their mentors haven’t a notion what they are doing nor do they ever intend too.
Having a proper philosophy will attract people to your club, you only have to look at some of the best clubs and see why they are attracting good coaches and players. They have a philosophy and someone who makes sure it is adhere to, this in turns creates the culture and ethos of the club and improves the performance of all the members.
How to develop your own philosophy
So you know the importance of having a well-articulated Coaching Philosophy. It is a critical component of any coaches careers and if you want to be impactful, we are always learning and evolving. The challenge is to define your philosophy and stick to it.
Every coach has certain things they never compromise on. If a coach values ability, they will never let their players sacrifice on technique. By making a distinction between which values you want to have, but could perform your coaching role without, and those which you must have, you are able to evaluate how your coaching behavior is impacted by these values. The list of what different coaches’ value is as diverse as there are different types of coaches. So it is important once you have established your values, to identify which are your most critical values to you. Most coaches learn from others, they are usually the example of what to do or what not to do.
Many players can talk about a coach who they did not feel had shown the correct behavior nor treated their players well and as such, you may use these coaches as a reminder of what type of coach you want to become.
So the question to ask is, “why did I start coaching?” write down all the reasons and start from there.
- What are your Coaching Motives – The reasons why you took up coaching will affect how you coach.
- The Situation – There are situations in which a particular style of coaching is more appropriate than another. This will differ depending on the level, ability, and background of the players you coach.
- Your Personality – We are human, therefore, have individual personalities. Some coaches may be extroverted, outgoing and lively in their approach to coaching, while others may be more introverted and go about their coaching in a quiet, calm manner. Personality does not matter, provided that appropriate actions and behaviors are maintained, which relate to the every single situation.
- Your Knowledge – The more knowledgeable you are as a coach, the more options you will have available to you to plan and deliver effective sessions. You never stop learning. Knowledge will also help you to feel confident and create a positive environment for your players.
Develop a style
You will then develop a style that you are comfortable with, every coach has a coaching style which is largely defined by their personality. Each coaches’ coaching style will have strengths and weaknesses. Essentially understanding your coaching style will help you to comprehend your motivations, the environment you perform best in, and how you communicate best with your players.
Understanding the behavior you wish to exhibit consistently, how you wish to conduct yourself, how this behavior will impact on your players and the results of this impact, you can then create the foundations to control your conduct in your coaching role. This foundation will control how you conduct yourself in your coaching role. This is a big part of your coaching philosophy and should link to where you discovered your core values in relation to being a coach.
The creating and implementing of a coaching philosophy allows a coach to gain a clearer idea of what they want from their players, parents and any other individuals associated with the and/or club. This, in turn, will allow more coaches and the club to create a clearer development path for their players, therefore allowing coaches to set more effective, measurable and attainable long and short term goals. Understanding and developing a Coaching Philosophy is the key to success. Start with your core values and develop your coaching philosophy as you continue to coach.