In this article, I will look at developing a coaching philosophy. I will look at what I think a coaching philosophy is, why I think every coach needs one, and how do we go about developing our own coaching philosophy. Lets first start with some definitions so we are all on the same page.
What do i mean when I talk about philosophy? Its the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual that will act as a guide for their behaviour. The word philosophy comes from a Greek word meaning “love of wisdom”. It is distinguished from other ways of addressing problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational arguments.
Now lets define coaching. I believe coaching and teaching to be very similar professions. In essence, if you’ŗe a coach then you’re a teacher and vice versa. Consider coaching to train or instruct with a common goal to the team/athlete that will aid in reaching optimal levels of performance. Coaching is an art form, and as a result its not all about academic qualifications and scientific knowledge. If you have all this knowledge and education yet in-front of a group of athletes you freeze, unable to relay you’re expertise to create better athlete, then you’ŗe missing the actual “Art of Coaching”. With that being said, what separates great coaches from the rest is a lot more in-depth than the above definition. Sounds like a reason to write another article for the site. For the purpose of this article on developing a coaching philosophy, then the above definition suits.
So what is a coaching philosophy? Putting together the above definitions, you might think that its the beliefs of the coach. These beliefs are backed up by their experiences, knowledge, scientific rational and/or their own personal theorys. A coaches philosophy will then act as their blueprint or their guide when constructing training plans and coaching individual/team to achieve specific goals.
Now we have the definitions out the way, why is it important to have a coaching philosophy? Simply put, I believe that a coaching philosophy is the road map that will help you get to the desired destination. You wouldn’t just jump in a car and aimlessly drive and hope to end up in the right place? You will have a plan or a map of how to get there. Lets call this plan/map “our philosophy”. In the context of the athletes you are training, you wouldn’t just jump in and coach them without this plan/map, and an idea where to take them. Consider your coaching philosophy the road signs on how to get your athletes where you want them to be from a performance stand point.
Developing a coaching philosophy will help you to make difficult decisions and coach more successfully. You will always have a blue print to refer back to when you are stuck. For example a question that you can always refer back to your philosophy for the answer is – “is what I’m currently doing in line with what I believe?” As you grow as a coach, and learn new things through experiences, education, research, your philosophy will evolve. I should hope that it will be continually evolving over time. I believe that a great coach is ALWAYS learning and the philosophy of that coach will always be evolving.
Hopefully now, you understand the importance of having a coaching philosophy. You dont just want to be walking in the dark with no direciton or purpose do you? The next question is how do you go about developing a coaching philosophy? I have put together some bullet point that you might consider the principles of establishing you’re coaching philosophy. This is by no means a difinative list, but rather some ideas on where you can start. If you think something is missing please leave a comment below and share your thoughts with myself and our readership.
- Be yourself – Hugely important to ensure buy in with your athletes. If they think you are being something you’re not, you will lose respect very quickly. Be real with yourself, try to be self-aware, have self-asteam, and commit to self-disclosure.
- Define your coaching objectives – You must know where you want to go with your athletes. For example, is injury reduction your #1 focus? or do you want to make them enjoy every session? What other objectives might you have? And will these objectives change with each athlete?
- Establish rules – Rules will ensure that the athlete/teams knows what is expected of them. This will help to hold them accountable and set a minimum standard that you will expect from them.
- Build and nurture relationships with athletes – Great coaches are great leaders. These coaches have respect from their athletes and often the athletes will do anything the coach asks or expects. This happens as a result of building great relationships with each and every athlete. You don’t have to like every athlete you work with, but if you can instil a mutual respect with them your job becomes ALOT easier, and rewarding.
- Be organized – Being prepared for your sessions, athletes and events is essential. Professionalism is very important in the coaching industry and organisational skills play a huge role in that.
- Be honest – Never lie or BS your athletes. Once you lose their trust you will find it very hard to have a positive impact on them. Be honest with yourself and be able to admit when you are wrong. You won’t always have great sessions, make the best choices or decisions. Honest self evaluation of your own coaching is essential to become better at what you do.
- Focus on the big picture – Realise that you are just one small piece of the puzzle that fits together to produce and create successful athletes/teams. Leave your ego at the door, we are not in this profession to win individual prizes, get accolades or be in the lime light. Our goal should be to make our athletes successful and keep them healthy. Any personal agendas will only detract your attention from this goal and perhaps derail you along the way.
So there you have it, my thoughts on developing a coaching philosophy. If you haven’t already, then start piecing together and developing your own unique coaching philosophy.
Let me know your thoughts and comments as I would love to hear from you guys.