Coaches often begin their youth coaching career without a coaching philosophy. But it’s a good idea to have one in place. Generally, coaches’ philosophies are based on their knowledge, experiences and beliefs. These serve as a guide to helping coaches make decisions.
Why are coaching philosophies important?
Coaches’ philosophies are the foundation for everything they do. Their philosophies determine how they teach skills, what the team rules are and how to deal with parents and team conflicts.
A coach’s philosophy often remains consistent through the years. To develop a coaching philosophy, coaches should ask themselves the following questions:
- Why did you choose to coach?
- What kind of coach do you want to be?
- What are your priorities?
- What is your teaching style?
Coaches should keep in mind that their philosophy should be appropriate to the age group they are working with. For example, young children and high school kids learn differently and therefore need to be taught differently.
A coaching philosophy should address the following:
Teaching style. Coaches need to think about how skills should be taught. How should skills be broken down and explained in practice?
Coaches should also take into account their athletes’ learning styles. Athletes have three dominant styles of learning: visual (seeing), auditory (hearing) or kinesthetic (feeling.) Athletes may learn better by seeing the skill demonstrated, or by listening to a description of how the skill should be performed. Kinesthetic learners need to try performing the skill themselves.
- Measure of success. Your philosophy should address how you measure success. Coaches can measure success in a number of ways, including: statistics (for example, number of blocks per game,) end results (winning or losing) or by individual and team improvement (for example, performing better on the offense — defense transition.)
Coaches may opt to define success differently for older and younger players. For example, it may be more appropriate to define success for younger athletes as improving or mastering skills. For older–high school–athletes, end results would likely be more important. For example, coaches might measure elite athletes’ success by looking at their statistics.
- Communication. Find out what type of communication will work best with the team you are working with. How should you balance criticism and praise? How should you approach athletes when they make a mistake?
Coaches should have an open door policy with parents to prevent conflicts. They can communicate their coaching philosophy at a parent- athlete meeting so that both parties know what to expect in the upcoming season.
- Practice and game organization. How will you organize practices? What are your routines or rituals before games? How will you decide on playing time? Coaches can think about these questions to help develop their coaching philosophy.
Coaching philosophies are unique to each individual. Use the tips above to create a philosophy that best suits you and your style.