Coaching Philosophies: A Question of ‘Self’
When I started coaching at the age of 14, I never gave a 2nd thought to having a coaching philosophy. What even is a coaching philosophy? Why should I need one? In all honesty, it was probably not until I was 21 when Mike Rogers, director of The Athlete Factory NZ, questioned our staff team about our coaching philosophies, that I actually took the time to reflect and consider what a coaching philosophy was.
I left from that staff meeting feeling pretty clueless and had no idea how to even start to develop a coaching philosophy. After networking with a few other coaches that I had a lot of respect for and hearing their thoughts and philosophies, the penny dropped for me that a coaching philosophy is not something you have to ‘develop,’ it is something that you embody; how you coach, why you coach, and what you want to be to yourself and to your members/athletes. Essentially, your core values and personal beliefs as a person, and how they are reflected in your coaching.
I took the time to self reflect and look at my core values and questioned what really made me ‘me.’ With this, I landed on a coaching philosophy that I feel embodies who I am and who I want to be, not only as a coach but as a person.
“Be the referee of the game that you wish you were playing in.”
This resonates with me on a few levels; primarily, this alludes to my roots of playing and coaching rugby, the initial reason I moved to New Zealand, which carries a lot of weight in my coaching journey. This also has a deeper meaning for me; being a person that people want to be around, that can inspire people, and to be able to give people the best version of myself not only in a professional sense, but in a personal sense too.
My biggest core desires and values are connection and love. These underlie everything that I aim to be, how I interact with people, how I go about my everyday life, and I want to embody them fully as a coach.
It’s really interesting to reflect on this journey so far surrounding my coaching philosophy, and to revisit it after some time; over the last year i have learnt more about myself and about coaching than in the rest of my career beforehand, and i feel now that i have grown into this philosophy even more so than when i first landed on it. That being said, I definitely believe that a coaching philosophy isn’t permanent; it evolves with you as you evolve as a human and as a coach.
I think every coach should reflect and challenge themselves on what their coaching philosophy is, and question how aligned their coaching style is to their values. In all, I would argue that the more aligned your coaching is with you on a personal level, the better you are as a coach.