My Own Coaching Philosophy
Some of the coaching philosophy that I have gained in life first started from my dad, who I played for most of my life until I started playing in college. He’s currently a varsity Basketball coach for the high school I graduated from in 2008. He has coached football and basketball all his life. He has been at Chisholm Trail Academy for six years with a record of 126-39. One state Championship, 3 state runner ups with two of the three a lost by only one point.
He is very soft spoken, but assertive. He never degrades a player or embarrasses them on or off the floor. He shares with all the athletes each year that your life should be God, Family, and School and then if you have that in order, its basketball. Everything else must come after these. He believes and uses this in helping young athletes keep their priorities in order and have a better chance of getting the most out of their lives, on and off the court. These elements are now the four cornerstones of my personal life’s philosophy and have not changed, with my primary emphasis continuing on a strong spiritual commitment to God and family, and then I play the game.
Determining where our philosophical foundations rest, my dad shared to keep in mind that you must always be yourself. You can’t be John Wooden, Avery Johnson or any another coach. You have to be yourself. It’s alright to adopt certain ideas from other coaches, but if you try to be mimicking somebody you’re not, you’ll be inconsistent in your thoughts and actions, your players and assistants will question your honesty, and you will not be as successful as you could be, if you did it by someone else’s best.
A coaching philosophy is established in many ways and takes many years to develop a style and philosophy. The growth comes from life’s experiences of practices and games and it continue to grow as you learn more about the game and how to work with your players and other coaches. To ensure that a philosophy is a positive one, you have to examine the approaches taken by successful coaches and people in life. Talk with them, ask questions, read their books and articles, attend their clinics, which is especially important in a coach’s growth.
Attending clinics is an absolute necessity. Not only do you hear for yourself what respected coaches think, but you also have a chance in private to talk to them and ask questions. I personally had the opportunity to work a variety of hoop camps, including coaching for my dad and the Dallas Mavericks and their camps. As I played varsity basketball in high school I was a Dallas Maverick ball boy, and had a chance to meet and learn from PR personal, coaches and players as well.
I felt I began to gain a philosophy at an early age. Though I only coached at hoop camps I have played many basketball games in my life which I felt has given me growth and understanding of the game. It’s been shared with me that our philosophy will continue to evolve through the years, growing as we grow, knowing if we aren’t careful that this could end up as a negative as well as a positive. Knowledge and wisdom will be primarily tactical elements that change with your personnel and with the game itself. Many coaches have helped me at different points in my game; I like to think that it was more than just the game but the game of life. I look to coaches as mentors of life using the game as their instrument to develop the character of the man. I have had an opportunity to meet many coaches as well as many great players in our local area, each influencing me and giving me advice in many ways. Because of my respect for them and my desire to be the best player and one day coach I can be, I frequently have taken the initiative to approach these men and pick their brains in an effort to increase my expertise. Not once was I disappointed by their knowledge or their kindness in sharing.
Though I value the advice from people I respect, to all this information I added my own approach to life and to basketball. I too will be better off developing my own approach as a coach and a person, and not trying to emulate someone else. Coaches are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity and ability to work with and positively influence young people. I’ve always been told to be the coach your sons and daughters would want to play for, that is a good basis from which to evaluate ones coaching style. All of us should be determined to be that kind of coach.
One should never lose sight of the tremendous impact we are having on young people’s lives. Coaches are with young people at their emotional heights and their emotional depths, the times when they are most impressionable. It is a coach’s moral responsibility to use their opportunity in a positive manner to help prepare and develop the young person for life. As a coach, you must always be aware of the influence you have on your players. Because of their keen interest and emotional involvement in sports, your athletes will be hanging on every word you say. Many times I’m told you might think you are not reaching the player, because what you say to them in practice can determine how they feel and sleep the next day. An incident or cutting remark, which you may have already forgotten about might not be easily forgotten by the athlete, and could be a source of pain for a longer time than we know. I believe players who demonstrate these priorities are far superior to those with equal talent who do not have strong objectives. I have witnessed teams with the proper priorities beating a team that is more talented with none.
Our team objectives were always very simple yet clear, play hard, play smart, play together and then have fun. I always gave a 100 percent in practice and on and off the floor, I enjoyed playing hard. We were constantly encouraged to play smart, try to get each player working together as one even knowing that we all had different limitations. We developed roles for each player knowing and clearly understanding what the team and coach wanted. Focused on strengths, communicate with each other, know our go to guy. If both the coach and players have a good understanding of the different roles and who will fill them, you are well on your way to having a team play smart. Simply put, your team will play together if your players are as thrilled with a teammate’s accomplishments as they are their own. No one cares who gets the credit. If the team does well everyone does well.
In my reading I’ve found that there are several challenges in coaching that develop his character.
All his or hers success is dependent on the abilities of others. You got to surround yourself with good people. To a great extent, your success is dependent on the abilities of other athletes and how you can mold them, direct them, guide them and lead them.
Coaches are evaluated by everyone. In almost all other professions only a few if any people see our work. But if a player misses a layup, everybody sees it, and the coach gets blamed or corrected if the team doesn’t play well.
Everyone feels they have knowledge about the sport. Parents, fans, faculty, pretty much everyone who attends the game are coaches. More than willingly offer opinions and ideas how to help the team.
The highs are incredibly high and lows incredibly low. Athletes self images are tied to their athletic performances. Knowing that the best coaches are extremely visible and there when the athlete is down.
Honesty and humility are important in coaching and building a strong philosophy. Coaches though expected to know everything don’t, he should never be afraid to admit to a player he can’t answer the player’s question. So in helping build their relationship, there are a couple things that a player likes to hear that shows trust. A compliment and their name, thus making communication the key to success, a style of communication should be based on who you are and emulate your philosophy. Coaches, who invent answers to each and every question, begin to lose trust and integrity with their athletes. Never humiliate an athlete. Though each and every coach has their own style humiliation is the quickest way to lose the players trust and interest. All players need to be treated with dignity and praise no matter the situation. Be willing to learn in listening as well as coaching the player.
Perhaps the most important communication with a player is in the off season. Finding a time to have frequent off season communication not only has helped me, but I see it in others for importance to the love or the game and academics in the classroom in maintaining my grades. It tells me my coach is interested in my well being. I know that constant communication between the players and the coach during the off season helps to build a strong bond, which in turn builds strong players on an even stronger team. A friendly smile, a helping hand, or even working through a personal problem provides effective communication in building enduring relationships that will last a long time after players have finished playing for the coach.
It’s been shared with me that a good way of determining whether you’ve been a successful communicator as a coach is by the achievements of your former players and by whether they seek to remain in touch with you or not. My dad once told me that the greatest thrill in coaching comes when a player returns some years later and, with a big smile, says Hello Coach. Nothing else needs to be said. It’s important to keep open lines of communication with players, parents, and assistant coaches. He constantly reminds them his door is always open and encourages them to come see him about any problem. In the long run, player coach communication off and on the floor is critical in forming the character of the athlete.
The last philosophy is the relationship with the officials knowing this could be the most difficult part of the game. For obvious reasons it’s a thankless job, but knowing the game can’t be played without them. It is important that coaches and players maintain positive and effective communication with them. It shouldn’t be hard to do if the players and coaches use the same philosophy with the officials that they use with each other, a coach who treats an official with respect will receive respect and establish a relationship with them. I’ve watched coaches use their pregame to chat with officials and generate good will between them and sharing with them some points of interest for the game. Pregame talks are an opportunity to subtly remind officials about the certain elements of the game you feel could become important in a particular moment. Letting referees know when they are doing a good job as well as not can also be important. As coaches we shouldn’t limit our communication with officials to times when things aren’t going our way, but also in complimenting officials when it’s deserved even when you lose the game. If the official sees that the coach showing consistency and fairness in his sharing the referee is more likely to reciprocate. It also promotes a standard for the players and parents thus emulating their character beyond the floor.
In closing, I believe the character of the coach dictates the philosophy of the team, the school, the parents, community, as well as the game. The coach’s philosophy can either build team unity or destroy it, illustrating that speaks louder than words. Basketball is full of good people, and coaches at every level are ready and willing to share their information. Whether you’re doing the talking or the listening, one can become a better coach using a positive philosophy and gaining wisdom and knowledge as one experience the game.