The Power of a Coaching Philosophy

16 July 2015

A recent article on former Australian Cricket Coach John Buchanan highlighted the importance of  understanding yourself as a coach. Creating a coaching philosophy is one of the best ways you can do this.

The full article can be found HERE

A couple of quotes from John Buchanan are of particular interest:

“As a coach, you’ve got to understand yourself inside out and with that you do not compromise yourself. You can change the order of your principles if you like but you never sacrifice a principle, you don’t compromise a principle.”

“…if you know what your principles and philosophies are, and you stick by them, what you deliver to that athlete is consistency, and consistency is what an athlete seeks in a coach.”

 Will having a coaching philosophy make me a better coach?

Having a coaching philosophy will help you make decisions in all aspects of your role as a coach. When you need to make important decisions you can refer back to your philosophy and make your decision based on what you believe.

For example consider these scenarios:

1.  It’s a big game, scores are close and there are only a couple of minutes left. Who should you put on the field or court? The best players or the players who haven’t had as much game time?

2.  Players are trying really hard at practice but are making lots of mistakes. Do you make them run laps for making an error do you praise them for their effort and encourage them to work hard?

3.  One of the best players consistently turns up late to practice. Do you ignore it because they will help the team win or do reward the players who turn up on time?

As John Buchanan said “...Consistency is what athletes seek as a coach” so having a well developed philosophy will help you make these decision consistently and they will be aligned with your values and beliefs.

Do you believe that having a coaching philosophy will make you a better coach?

What does a coaching philosophy look like?

A coaching philosophy is a set of coaching principles or beliefs for you and will be unique to your coaching context. So what it looks like is what best works for you. It could be a single statement, it could be a paragraph, or it could be a series of bullet points. I have seen an example where a coach has used a table and put his thoughts down in different categories.

Categories you may wish to include:

  • Practice Environment (Including; attendance at training, training standards, etc)
  • Game day environment (Including; role of parents, game time for athletes, etc)
  • Coach/Athlete relationship
  • Your leadership style (Including communication)
  • Your coaching style
  • Creating a learning environment
  • Your own personal/professional development
  • Dealing with injured athletes
 How do coaches go about developing their own coaching philosophy?

Coaches need to reflect on their coaching and ask some why and the how questions. Why am I a coach? How do I coach? Why do I believe that?

Some additional key questions that you can ask to assist you in developing your coaching philosophy are:

  • What is coaching and why do I believe that?
  • What are the core values that will guide your behaviour as you attempt to coach?
  • What is my coaching style?
  • Why do the athletes I coach participate?
  • How do I know if I have been effective as a coach?

Understanding your reasons for coaching and your beliefs about the coaching process is an essential beginning for your journey as a coach. Your philosophy will likely change over time which is fine, so start by writing something down and continually refer back to it and let it evolve as you learn and develop as a coach.