One of the most challenging things for a young coach to do is create, define and communicate their coaching philosophy. The challenges of organising thoughts into a clear philosophy is a valuable development exercise.
The “technical-tactical” side of a philosophy is usually the easy part; defining who you are as a coach and how you manage relationships is more difficult to organise and build into your overall philosophy.
In starting this process, consider the “5 C’s” of coaching –
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” – Theodore Roosevelt
This quote has been paraphrased in coaching for years, with people being replaced with players.
In a recent article on this site, we asked a number of current and former elite players what they valued in a coach. The responses were overwhelmingly focused on the “people” side of coaching, highlighting areas such as communication, trust and genuine, demonstrated care of them as people first, players second.
As we navigate the ongoing challenges of the global pandemic, this demonstration of care and investing in relationships has never been more important for coaches at all levels of the sport.
— Alan Keane (@CoachKeane14) August 14, 2021
Most people will espouse the importance of communication as a key tool for coaches and no question effective communication is crucial. But for this exercise, we have defined the second C as conversation.
Some may see this as semantics, but conversation is about two-way communication and ensuring both people feel heard and valued in that communication. If you are engaged in conversation as a coach, you are doing your share of listening.
Conversations is not just with players, but with assistant coaches, support staff, management and stakeholders.
These conversations can take many different shapes and be held in different settings. With players, it may be three minutes prior to practice, or over a coffee away from the gym or quick chat over the phone.
— Tackle Your Feelings Australia (@TYF_AU) August 13, 2021
One of the most basic leadership traits is the ensuring you do what you say you will do. Players will value this authenticity and it will allow you to be a consistent leader and coach.
Many coaches will invest in establishing rules, values or “trademarks” for their team, but the real challenge remains in living these values and making all decisions based on these agreed behaviours.
Consistency in providing feedback is highly valued by players and is also crucial in developing your younger assistant coaches and staff. Players will remember each piece of feedback, ensure you record and file so you stay the course with this important area of your coaching.
With the growing size of coaching staffs and the ever-expanding list of people of influence in the world of a young players, valuing collaboration and managing expectations has never been more important for coaches.
The best coaches are able to be collaborative but maintain a strong leadership focus. People who are engaged in decision making and the direction of the team are more likely to be invested in the journey.
“The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team,” – UCLA coaching icon John Wooden.
By definition, a coach is a “manager of performance” and along with their development of players, winning and results are crucial elements for the high-performance coach.
Competition doesn’t mean just wanting to win each weekend, it speaks to creating an environment where all engaged in the team are wanting to be the best they can be and are investing towards that.
Legendary NFL coach Pete Carroll outlines in his best-selling book “Win Forever” how competition is the underlying value of all aspects of his coaching philosophy and how he defined what competition means to players and staff.
Celebrating small wins and establishing benchmarks for competition should be at front of mind for coaches at all levels. In their recent Olympic bronze medal run, the Australian Boomers had “gold vibes only” as one of their mantras and this was as much about the process of competition day to day as it was about an end goal.