Why a Coaching Philosophy?
Even if you have never verbally stated to your athletes, they probably have an idea of your coaching philosophy. The value you place on winning, effort, teamwork, punctuality and your love for the sport are all things that are often implicitly learned. It is important to determine your beliefs and expectations not only for your athletes, but also for your assistant coaches, trainers, parents and for yourself. Before anyone else can know what is expected from you, you need to decide what is important and what your expectations are. As a leader, the coach is a resemblance of the athletes and their behaviours. If any of your athletes don't agree with your coaching philosophies then it is better they know early in the season to avoid disagreements further down the road.
How to Develop a Coaching Philosophy?
It is important to write down what you expect from your athletes and what you value in your sport; sportsmanship, winning/losing, teamwork, anti-doping/fair play, personal growth, roles on the team, behaviours accepted vs. not accepted, etc. After you have defined what you value and what you expect from the athletes, it is important to let them know. Even if you think it might be obvious, your athletes should still be told. Let your athletes know early in the season. A good way is to have the athletes sign an 'Athlete Guarantee' form and to sit down and talk with them about your beliefs and goals for the year and your expectations of them as members of the team.
Some Questions to Ask Yourself When Developing a Coaching Philosophy
How important is winning?
How important is fair play (what if it might lead to an unsuccessful performance?)
Is it how they play the game or the result that matters most?
How do you value their personal growth (on and off the field/court)?
What is your stance on doping/drugs in sport?
Importance of you and your athletes being punctual?
The effort that you, your coaching staff and your athletes give at practice?
Are your practices and games all serious or do you want them to have fun?
If a referee is involved? Do you questions calls and argue? Do you let your athletes? Is this a double standard?
Is it more important that your athlete is improving or getting results?
Would you sacrifice the well being of an athlete to win?
If your athletes are in school, what is your opinion of them missing school or exams?
What if one (or more) of your athletes have a temper?
Do you treat your athletes the same regardless of skill level, age, sex, race, religion, etc? (Do your athletes?)
Does your beahviour as a coach reflect your beliefs (coaching philosophy)?
Do you adjust your coaching style and beliefs to the athletes you have or do you make them adjust to you? Is there a compromise both ways?
Do your beliefs hold any of your athletes back? Do you challenge them to be better athletes and people? To work harder?
How hard are you going to work/push them? Do your athletes understand and agree with this? Do they know why this is/isn't important to you and them?
How much say do the athletes have in the play calling/design of practice? Do they run set plays? Do you allow for creativity? View on athlete empowerment - decision making?
Do you want what's best for them or you? Or both?
Do your actions reflect what you preach?
Do you have a policy if an athlete goes against your beliefs and expectations? Is this known ahead of time?
Know what you stand for and believe in so your athletes do!