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Developing a Coaching Philosophy

Developing a Coaching Philosophy

As many of you are starting a new season with a new group of players, please take a step back and think about what you want to accomplish with your team? Is it about winning the championship? Is it about helping them improve as players? Is it about increasing their enjoyment of playing sports? Take a moment and reflect on why you are out there and what you hope to provide for your players.
Having a solid coaching philosophy will really help your players, and their ever-encroaching parents, understand what to expect from you, the coach. When you develop your philosophy, here are a couple of pointers to help you along.

  • First, focus on what you can control. You can control the work ethic and pace of practice. You can control how hard your players play. You CAN control how prepared they are to play. You CAN’T control bad calls, bad weather and bad luck. You CAN’T control if you win a game. Yet, too many coaches have a philosophy that is focused on winning the championship. What happens if you lose the championship due to windy conditions and some unlucky calls? Is your season a failure?
  • Focus on what you can control and develop part of your philosophy around it. Part of Coach Dean Smith’s Philosophy was “Play Hard”. Something that they could control.
  • Focus on the journey, not the outcome. Coaches get so focused on winning and being in first place that they miss the opportunity to have a positive impact on their players. They miss the opportunity to develop some close personal relationships with their players. Isn’t that why we’re out there? We love being around kids. When a coach focuses on the journey, their teams play a lot more unselfishly and with more unity and chemistry. Another part of Dean Smith’s philosophy was “Play Together”. Of course this had far reaching implications off the court. Players couldn’t be late to practice, games or classes as this would hurt the team. They couldn’t make bad decisions that might costs the team. By focusing on the journey, think about how your actions and body language might change during tight games? Will you still get visibly upset when a player misses a shot or makes an error? You may if you’re worried about the outcome. Hopefully you won’t if you think about how you can do a better job of handling your players during games.

I’m aware that there are many other concepts and qualities that you may want to share and emphasis with your players. Good citizenship, good sportsmanship, respect and many others are great qualities to include/be part of your philosophy. Try to not include everything as then this sounds artificial… unless you’re John Wooden. His Pyramid of Success is both visual and powerful!!

Think about the 2-3 most important qualities. Build your philosophy around these. Chances are some of the others are underlying layers and cousins of the 2-3 that you pick. The key is to focus on what you control and focus on the journey.

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