Oct 23, 2020

What is a Coaching Philosophy- Part 1

About Iain

Iain Shippey founded Thincsport in an endeavor to partner with players, coaches, and parents – and consults with individual players, business leaders, coaches, schools, clubs and universities to help them seize the mental edge and develop into transformative leaders. He runs courses in Leadership and Human Performance, which incorporates the fundamental building blocks of Applied Sports Psychology. He co-authored a next-gen course with Dr. Melissa Adendorff, who is an academic, elite ballerina and performance coach. In a very exciting development, Iain is forming a new company, with Paul Mills the CEO of HFPA (https://hfpa.co.za) they are going to be offering new qualifications in the fields of Wellness and Human Performance Coaching in partnership with leading Performance Coaches in the USA and NZ. Among the team are Kamerion Winfrey, former NFL star, and  Ron Miller who worked at FSU, Florida State University as a strength and conditioning coach with multiple elite athletes. John Quinn the Crusaders Mental Coach also adds significant value to the team. Iain, comes to life at the intersection of professional sport, coach mentorship, and youth development – describing this as the juncture in which sport facilitates infinite possibility with Millennials and Generation Z. He is part of the SA Men’s Hockey support team, serving under the leadership of coach, Garreth Ewing as a Leadership and Culture coach.

Great Coaches have a Coaching Philosophy:

A coaching philosophy is a statement that underlines a coach’s values, opinions and beliefs. It is drawn based on their experience and knowledge. A coaching philosophy spells out the coach’s aspects of delivery and it offers a consistent as well as sincere approach to his coaching style – Frank Reynolds. Frank Reynolds is a Canadian Level 4 high performance coach, middle and long distances, working with elite athletes as well as coaching high school athletes with the North Westers Track and Field Club.

The legendary American basketball coach John Wooden captured one of the best-known examples of a coaching philosophy. Wooden, an English and sports teacher at the time, was frustrated with the grading system he was required to use and sought a means whereby his students could better understand success as a result of effort invested in a task.

He spent the next 14 years identifying 25 behaviours that he believed were necessary to achieve his idea of success. His pursuit resulted in a simple but profound diagram Wooden called ‘The Pyramid of Success’1 which outlined his coaching philosophy. Completed in 1948, this philosophy became the cornerstone of his coaching and helped him lead his UCLA Bruins to a record 10 NCAA National Basketball Championships in 12 years during the 1960s and 1970s. He was named coach of the 20th century by ESPN.

Build your own philosophy

Coaches, it is imperative that you build your own coaching philosophy and don’t just copy and paste someone else’s. By all means receive inspiration from mentors and leaders in your field but you need to document a philosophy that is uniquely yours. “It’s not just something that you can copy from someone else. It’s something that has got to resonate with you as a coach. Something that you have built by yourself.”

If you try to push something that is not 100% ‘you’, you will be caught out when the heat is on and be perceived as inconsistent or inauthentic.

Constructing of an effective Coaching Philosophy: 

1.  Know yourself

The most effective coaches I personally know or have read about have an excellent understanding of their personality traits and habits. They are able to use their strengths and minimize their weaknesses – Frank Reynolds.

Let’s start peeling back the layers and get to the essence of who you are as a person, and how you should be coaching.

Dr Mc Graw says, “The authentic self is the you that can be found at the absolute core. It is the composite of all your unique gifts, skills, abilities, interests, talents, insights, and wisdom. It is all of your strengths and values that are uniquely yours and need expression, versus what you have been programmed to believe that you are ‘supposed’ to be and do. It is the you that flourished, unselfconsciously, in those times in your life when you felt happiest and most fulfilled. It is the you that existed before and remains when life’s pain, experiences and expectancies are stripped away. It is the you that existed before you were scarred by your parents’ divorce or wounded when that cute boy at school made fun of your braces or your dress.”

The following prompt questions will help you in your discovery of knowing yourself more intimately, identifying what motivates you, and aids you in capturing unique traits that you have inherited or personalised and that you can pass onto others. Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of questions, as they are there to serve you as you clarify your approach to coaching and are triggered to think about aspects of your role that you haven’t considered. The questions could also help you clarify your personal mission statement and philosophical approach to life that will have expression in your role as coach. (You might want to turn to the back of the book and look at the summary, as it identifies the major questions you need to answer to have all bases covered).

  • Why do you coach?
  • What is coaching – why do you believe that?
  • What is your personal mission statement?
  • What are your strengths?
  • Ask a few close friends what exceptional qualities they see in you?
  • Who were the most influential coaches in your life? Why?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What are your values?
  • Are they your team or are you their coach?
  • What excites you and motivates you?
  • What habits have you cultivated that have led to success in various tasks you have performed?
  • What do you believe is the best way to motivate others?
  • What is your philosophy of leadership?
  • In your book, what is negotiable and what is non-negotiable?
  • Do you consider yourself to be a cheerleader of others or do you believe that that the coaching environment needs to be a strict and formal one?
  • Are you best at coaching adults, teens or kids?
  • Are you flexible and adaptable or more rigid in your implementation of a game plan?
  • What is your work ethic and what work ethic do you expect from your players?
  • What is your coaching style? In a study of more than 500 coaches, five distinct categories of coaching styles were identified. Most coaches possess certain characteristics of each coaching type but you should be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of the different coaching styles.

1.  Authoritarian Coach: strong discipline, well-organized, good team when winning, dissension when losing, maybe feared or disliked.

2.  Business – like Coach: Intelligent logical approach, well planned and organized, up to date with new techniques, expects 100 percent effort all the time, may set goals too high for some team members.

3.  Nice Guy Coach: well liked, players sometimes take advantage of the coach’s co – operative nature, gets on well with players of a similar temperament.

4.  Intense Coach: emphasizes winning, high anxiety often transmitted to players.

5.  Easy – Going Coach: very casual, gives impression of not taking the game seriously, may not be prepared to drive the team at training, well liked but may seem to be inadequate in some situations.

Don’t forget to catch Part 2 of Coaching Philosophy next week – right here.