What is a coaching philosophy and why is it indispensable?


Coaching philosophy may not be a part of the branches of philosophy but in sports it is indispensable. Because every coach has a vision of the best organization for a team, how a team should train and how they should play the game. This is system of beliefs which is often unconscious to the coach determines how they approach every training session, every important game and every hiccup in this process. When such a coaching philosophy is well thought and applied effectively it affects the results, satisfaction of the players and the bond of every person in that team tremendously positive. But when it is muddled, wrought with inconsistencies and not well applied it can have devastating effects on all these parts. A good coaching philosophy contains your main goal on the field. Whether it is development of the players’ skills or winning. It should clarify your approach to a training session or playing a game. But it can also contain how you deal with conflict. Your values and principles dictate your objectives and approach. It can help to include these aspects in your coaching philosophy to clarify your goals and the way you approach a certain situation. It can help to follow a philosophy class if you want to develop your coaching philosophy.

A coaching philosophy example clarifies what it is all about:

My coaching philosophy is: I am a firm believer “If you have knowledge pass it on to those who do not”. I also believe that playing sports as a child, not only builds character and confidence but also gives them a sense of accomplishment. It also prepares them for life. Working as a team or as a team player. Not as an individual. I also feel it can bring a child out of his/her shell or shyness. – George Hornung, Soccer Coach.

I like this quote because it shows what George Hornung believes in and why he finds it important for children to play sports. This philosophy will affect they way he coaches. A person with a philosophy set on winning will approach coaching differently. It also shows that a coaching philosophy does not need to restrict itself to one sport. This is a soccer coaching philosophy, but it could just as well be a basketball coaching philosophy. It could also be a leadership philosophy.coaching philosophy 1

When writing your own coaching philosophy incorporate what your aim is for yourself, for your team as a whole and for each individual player. But you need to clarify your values and principles because your goals are the foundation. To do that you need to learn more about yourself. Ask yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. Reflect on your current way of handling situations and imagine how you want to react. Ask yourself why you coach and what you want to teach your players. Ask yourself what is more important, winning or having fun. Don’t just answer these questions without thinking. Sit down and truly ask yourself and be honest with yourself. Let go of your preconceptions of the answers to these questions and truly decide the answers for yourself. When you give any one answer, think of arguments for your positions and counter-arguments for it. The more time you spend on truly knowing yourself, the stronger your coaching philosophy will be. It is also important to know your environment. Are you coaching a professional football team or a high school team? Are your players interested in winning competition or improving their game? Does the team consist of close friends or loose acquaintances? These are all important questions that need answering. Knowing your environment is just as important as knowing yourself for your coaching success.

Finally the most important part of any kind of philosophy. No matter how strong, detailed or geared towards your audience a coaching philosophy is, it has no value if it is not lived by the coach. No matter if you are developing a soccer, basketball, cricket or american football coaching philosophy, it is of the utmost importance to live your coaching philosophy in every interaction between you and your team. It may seem like a chore to reflect on every decision you make to check if it matches with your philosophy. But after a while you will internalize this philosophy and will instinctively act by it without even thinking about it. This will create trust and consistency, which will enhance your bond with your team. Furthermore you will be an example for all players. Instead of being an obnoxious coach that tells everyone what the right thing is without following his own words, your players will look up to you as an example of good sportsmanship and leader. But it is also important to remember that a good philosophy stays relevant by changing to circumstances. That is why it is important to reflect on the state of your coaching philosophy from time to time. People change, situations change and most important you change. By reflecting constantly and communicating with your team, you avoid turning your coaching philosophy into dogma.
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