Do you need a coaching philosophy?

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In our travels around the sports fields of the KZN10 we have encountered many coaches and, being one myself, have often wondered what drives most of them? The countless hours that’s spent honing your craft and getting yourself prepared. The time given to practice planning, analysing game film, dealing with players, with parents, with the school and even sometimes, your significant other.

With the influx of non teaching staff into the school sports environment there has been a marked change in the way sports are coached. No longer are some school teams coached by staff members who are teachers by profession, but by experts in their respective sports who operate at a professional to semi-professional level.

The Northwood reacting to a try against Maritzburg College. Photo- Northwood School

This also extends to young coaches who are fresh out of school and have a coaching job for extra money. This article is not meant to be a discussion about the pro’s and con’s of each but a snapshot of the current coaching landscape.

I have come to realise that we all work with a set of principles or beliefs that I would loosely call our coaching philosophy. Whether one realises it or not we all have one including you dad and mom as you read this. One of the important realisations that any person dealing with young people needs to have is that you do indeed have one.

I remember as a new green bean coach standing on the side of the court trying to eke out a victory. The game was tight and one of my players made an elementary mistake or so I thought. I am embarrassed to say that for a brief moment, I lost it, OK it wasn’t really brief, but you get the idea.

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The part that really stood out to me was the looks that my grade 9’s gave me, let alone the poor player who felt my frustration, at the next stoppage in play. There was fear in their eyes as they didn’t want to be the next one to ‘fail’, to be exposed for not meeting up to the coaches requirements. This was especially acute considering that there were friends and family watching from the stands. The result of the match has faded in time but the lesson still lingers.

The coach has his players attention. Photo – Kearsney College

Yes, the stakes are higher and the pressure greater the further up you go and there is no denying that. Unfortunately, I had forgotten, and probably at that stage in my life did not even realise, that my role as a coach wasn’t so much to win games.

I had the privilege to be a part of teaching these players as people how to navigate life with all its difficulties and still be a good person. To fail, to lose, to win, to miss, to score to be human and still walk away with the courage to do it all again tomorrow.

After all, it was just a game and these were just schoolchildren. The gravity of the position hit me in that moment as I realised that unless I took the time to ask the tough questions, I would always be responding in ways that made me the victim of circumstance as opposed to a master of my future.

I still get a little passionate with my players from time to time but as I have refined my coaching philosophy, so the more I have become concerned about teaching these players about life than the sport itself.

As coaches we all want to win and to succeed and a coaching philosophy will go a long way in helping you do that.

In my next article I will talk about establishing your Philosophy and Priories associated with that.

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