Back in December 2018 I drafted a “coaching philosophy’ whilst working through the iCoachKids MOOC Developing Effective Environments for Children in Sport.
My Coaching Philosophy v2.0
- Better is always possible — you just might have to re-define your better!
- But if it isn’t fun, the participants won’t come back next week, and will never have the chance to get any better!
I have belatedly returned to the iCK courses, and have just completed MOOC #3, Coaching on the Ground: Planning, Doing, Reviewing.
One challenge set for the “Lifelong Learning Coach” is to revisit and review behaviours, habits, and philosophies.
So — how does the Philosophy 2.0 it still stand up to scrutiny, 15 months on?
Over the years, I have had several attempts at defining a personal coaching philosophy, from the naively simplistic “Get Better” back in 2012, by way of 2016’s 6 word philosophy, and ’ave a go in 2017, to the 2018-vintage, v2.0 philosophy.
Better is always possible — you just might have to re-define your better!
- All practice should include an appropriate level of challenge for the player(s)
- Identify weaknesses and plan, with the player(s), how to address them
- Celebrate success!
It has to be FUN – if it isn’t, the participants won’t come back next week, and will never have the chance to get any better!
- Emphasise healthy competition
- Make sure the players experience at least some success in every session — competency & confidence contribute to fun!
Towards a new philosophy
The main pillars of v2.0 still ring true, to me.
Better is possible (aka Growth Mindset) and remembering that, for most participants, sport is only ever going to be recreational — they are playing for FUN.
This latter does not preclude finding an appropriate level of competitiveness, so long as the emphasis is placed on the “True Competition” model, as described by Shields & Bredemeier in 2009 * — striving with (alongside) an opponent to improve skills, not (only) against.
Missing (or only implicit) is the need to develop and enhance strengths — participants need to experience success (not too easily) and feel that they are indeed exhibiting (or developing) mastery over a particular activity or technique.
- If they consistently “win” too easily, they will become bored.
- If the task defeats them every time, they will give up.
So strengths have to be both enjoyed and challenged.
Also missing from these statements is any explicit connection with the participants, or any true understanding of their individual motivations.
I do struggle with this — why bother to engage when you can play another game, or just fire down another bag of balls from the bowling machine?
Generic understanding of learning motivations, both for children and adults, will help.
But am I really coaching, or just facilitating activities?
Perhaps, a genuinely philosophical question?
- Challenge & enhance existing skills, and encourage/facilitate the development of mastery in the player.
- Understand better what motivates participants — ask what the participants need or want, and make sure the sessions address these needs and wants.
* True competition: a guide to pursuing excellence in sport and society, David L. Shields and Brenda L. Bredemeier, 2009, Champaign, IL, Human Kinetics