a new and inexperienced coach, you have much to prepare for in your
first season. Of course, you are excited and eager about your
first head coaching position. You most likely have planned what
you are going to do and believe that you are ready. But are you
truly ready? Have you thought about the why's and how's of
everything you will do as a coach? It is important as you get
started in coaching to develop a philosophy. For that matter,
even experienced coaches may want to re-evaluate their philosophy.
Many coaches do not believe in the value of developing a coaching
philosophy. They do not realize how a philosophy can have an
impact on their daily coaching procedures and strategies.
However, a coach's philosophy is actually a very practical
matter. In fact, every coach, whether he's aware of it or not,
follows certain principles based on his/or her own playing
experience. Most of our basic philosophy comes from former high
school and college coaches. This is a natural start because it is
the approach with which we are the most familiar and comfortable.
It is also reasonable to assume that the philosophy of a person's
everyday life, thinking, and actions would be applied when it comes to
coaching. For example, a salesman discovers that one of his
clients is dishonest. He decides to sell to a competitor despite
the fact that he will make less profit selling the same product.
This may not sounds like good business practice, yet many people are
willing to adhere to their principle even if it means making less
money. How many coaches would stick to principles of
sportsmanship or fair play rather than win the game? There
may be a gap between what a coach thinks is the right thing to do in
every day life and the action he takes on the field or court.
In your effort to form or analyze your own philosophy of coaching,
first know what a coach is. A coach can be many different things
to many different people. A coach is a mentor, a teacher, a role
model, and sometimes a friend. Most of all, a coach must be
positive. A positive coach has the following traits:
A positive coach wants to win but understands that he is an educator
first. The development of his players is his top priority.
He avoids thinking that the game is about himself rather than his
players. He must have an unwavering commitment to what is best
for the athletes.
Character and Skills
A coach seizes upon victories and defeats as teaching moments to build
on self-confidence and positive character traits such as discipline,
self-motivation, self-worth, and an excitement for life.
He focuses on effort rather than outcome. He sets standards of
continuous learning and improvement for the athletes. He
encourages and inspires the athletes, regardless of their skill levels,
to strive to get better without threatening them through fear,
intimidation, or shame.
a Partnership with the Players
A positive coach involves the team members in determining team rules
and recognizes that communication is crucial to building effective
relationships with players. He develops appropriate relationships
with the players based on respect, caring, and character. The
desire to see the athlete learn and effectively improve his skill is
key to an effective coaching program.
Treasures the Game
A positive coach feels an obligation to the sport he coaches. He
loves the sport and shares that love and enjoyment with the
athletes. He respects opponents, recognizing that a worthy
opponent will push his team to do its best. There is not a level,
where as a coach, you cease teaching the game. As long as you
teach, teach in a positive manner. You will produce the best
players an, ultimately, the best results.
It is extremely important to develop a philosophy with the following in
Approach Should be Educationally Sound
Your drills should serve a purpose and not be used merely for "killing"
time. They should be structures to provide the necessary
repetitions for each athlete and should be relative to the athlete's
Approach Should be Appropriate for Your Players
You may learn a lot of new offenses and defenses and they may be
excellent systems, but are they suited to your players? Use an
approach that is developmentally appropriate for your players.
Must be Ethical
In basketball, for example, many coaches instruct players to fake an
injury in order to stop the clock. This is unethical.
Consider what you do in all aspects of coaching. Coaching from an
ethical standpoint is extremely important. Remember, you are a
role model for your players.
With Your Philosophy
Most coaches, especially on the high school level, have to develop the
talent on hand. There may be some years in which athletes may not
possess the ability or skill to fit into your philosophy. You
cannot change the players, but you can alter your approach.
There a Better Way of Doing What You Are Doing?
Apply this question to all aspects of your coaching philosophy as it
affects the offense, defense, motivation, etc. Keep an open
mind. Learning should be a life-long pursuit, and this
should definitely apply to your coaching philosophy.
Why You Do the Things You Do
To instruct and to motivate your athletes, you have
to justify what you do. Can you? You need to be able to do
so. The days of just simply saying, "Well, this is the way we are
going to do it," are long gone. There is no way that you can
justify anything associated with your program or team to athletes and
parents without explanation.
Coaching Philosophy Should be Compatible With Your Personality
Are you a risk taker? Are you patient or impatient? Are you
deliberate or aggressive? You will be more successful if your
philosophy and personality are in sync.
Conduct Should be a Top Priority in Your Philosophy
There are situations in some games that could be considered
unsportsmanlike by opponents, officials, or fans. Running up the
score, playing starters long after the outcome has been determined, and
taunting are just a few examples. If any of these are tolerated
within your approach to coaching, you may need to make some changes.
After considering the factors I have mentioned,
develop your own philosophy by putting it into written form. It
is extremely important to be able to express and to explain your
approach to athletes, parents, and supervisors.