Notice: This article was written by Steve Jordan, Coach's Notebook. Email the author at email@example.com.
Prior to a recent coaching interview, I sat down and revisited my coaching philosophy. After a long stretch of soul searching, I was able to state the heart of my coaching philosophy as concisely as I could. What is a coaching philosophy? It is really a summation of those values you most believe in. From that pool of values, everything else wells up. Stating your philosophy is a little scary because it is so personal, but now I feel it is an important thing to do. Once its on paper (or your web page!), you are at once more clearly defined. You can always tweak it as you grow. But if you are successful in getting your core values articulated, you probably won't change much. Your philosophy will become your standard and will serve to keep you grounded when times get tough. When others around you become confused, you will know who you are and what you should do.
My coaching philosophy is not built around winning. Winning basketball games is a by-product of player commitment, fundamental skills and strength of character. When winning a game is the primary goal of coaching a team, the three elements of success - commitment, development of fundamental skills and character - are often compromised or overlooked. Therefore, ironically, focusing on winning may make winning difficult, if not impossible. So, my philosophy is to strive to win by developing my team's commitment, fundamental skills and character.
Commitment - I believe every player has something important to contribute to the team. In that belief, I feel every player should participate in every game. Players who know they will be needed every game will be motivated to prepare themselves and will feel compelled to encourage one another instead of compete for playing time. Parents are far less prone to complain knowing their child will have a chance to participate and contribute.
Fundamental Skills - The outcome of any given game is really the sum of the decisions, plus or minus, made by each player and the ability of each player to act upon those decisions. Advantageous decisions are far more effective than raw talent, and team members must learn to rely on their wisdom rather than simply striving harder. Players must be taught to recognize acceptable risks, have the courage to make decisions and take responsibility for the consequences. Players must also develop a complete set of basic skills necessary to carry out their decisions. Teams that make reckless decisions or cannot consistently perform required skills will suffer in a competitive environment.
Character - A critical part of building a team is defining and developing a representative set of values. Its possible to have a team that is committed and skilled, but under the pressure of intense competition fails to succeed. Competition measures character. Teams that possess strength of spirit, teamwork and respect can prevail over talented teams that do not. Those are memorable games.
Note: Character building is a complex topic. Read an article on this website that contains much more detail.
Be Our Best. Typically, an objective, measurable goal is better, but Being Our Best exemplifies a collective pursuit of excellence. It works on both individual and team levels.
Teamwork is one of those popular words coaches like to use and everyone acts as if the meaning of the word is understood. Yet teamwork is a complex idea and is envisioned differently among individuals. To some, teamwork is simply one player helping another, and that is an acceptable definition. To others, it means a change from personal identity to a collective identity. The second definition of teamwork gives one a glimpse of the power a team can wield.
The elements of teamwork are unity of purpose, trust and respect. To reach the team's potential, each player must be resolved with the same purpose - be our best. Players must learn to trust one another completely. They must demonstrate respect at all times for their program, their opponents and themselves.
The scope of the team is much larger than the player roster. The program's administrators, coaches, players and their parents are all part of the team. The best of teams will have all of these teammates working in concert. Teams that fall short of their potential will do so because of divisiveness.