When someone builds a structure like a house, they have to make sure that the foundation is solid. They install footings, create wood forms, and pour concrete to make sure it will have a good base to build on. This foundation brings stability to the house that will one day become a home for a family. In the bible it speaks of how the wise man built his house on the rock, but the foolish man built his on the sand. As you read the passage below we learn the “rock” is God’s word, and when we implement this into our lives it will prepare us for the trials and triumphs we will go through.
In coaching, the foundation of your program will be your philosophy. This needs to be communicated to your staff and players on a continual basis until it is embedded in their memory. This will convey your priorities in life and the style with which you want your team to play. You need to decide on how to implement this so your staff and players can relate to it and you. Interaction with these people is of the utmost importance and you want them to buy in to your philosophy. Great coaches are flexible and learn to modify and adjust in certain situations, but there must be absolutes that are established so everyone knows what is expected of them.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”Matthew 7:24-27, NIV
A very important piece of your coaching philosophy will be setting priorities in life. This may depend on the level you are coaching at, but regardless it is imperative that you communicate this with your team. In professional baseball we are dealing with grown men, so I use the Four “F’s” in this order:
- Faith– My relationship with my Lord and Savior comes first. I will be an example of Him at all times.
- Family– I will be a husband and father who will be present in their lives and put their well-being ahead of income and promotions.
- Field– This is my workplace and the means by which I provide for my family. I will work diligently and remind myself of the calling God has put on my life when things are difficult.
- Friends– Relationships are important and help keep me grounded. Having a small group of men who hold me accountable is a huge part of personal growth.
When it comes to amateur athletics the list is very similar, but now academics are a huge part of the equation. “No pass, no play” is real and the last thing you want to stand in your player’s way of getting an opportunity to play at the next level is poor grades. Players need to understand that the word student in the term student-athlete comes first for a reason. In the pro game we say during Spring Training that you “Can’t make the club in the tub”. This means that you will not be breaking with the big league team or a minor league affiliate if you are injured or constantly getting hurt. Athletes at the amateur level need to take care of their responsibilities in the classroom before they can expect to take the field. Their priorities should line up like this: Faith, Family, Education, Athletics, Friendships.
What is Your Why?
Have you ever asked yourself why you coach? Knowing the answer to this will help unlock the key to your coaching philosophy. Think about the coaches or family members who influenced you in both a positive and negative way. Their example or style may influence how you prepare for practices and the decisions you make in games. Having perspective is very important when building your philosophy. While this game may be the way you are providing for your family, going off on a player because of a mistake that resulted in a loss isn’t worth damaging your relationship with them. A game does not hinge on one play. It is a collection of plays throughout the game that determine the outcome.
Remember why you love the sport you are coaching. Harken back to the days when you played and the sounds & smells that bring back fond memories. I keep a bag of original Big League Chew in my locker and take a whiff before I leave for the field. It reminds me of how passionate I was back when I played for the Kiwanis Reds in West Branch Little League. Wilcox Field was my favorite place on earth and it’s where I gained the confidence to believe I would one day be a professional baseball player. Just because you are the one making out the lineup now, doesn’t mean you can’t have the joy of a kid when you coach.
Here is a link to a PDF version of my current coaching philosophy. You also have the opportunity to download and save it to the device you are using. Give it a look and tell me what you think. Maybe it will help you create your own. Feel free to give me some insight on your coaching philosophy. Maybe it will help shape mine.
Here are some things to think about when creating your coaching philosophy:
- Communicate it well with your coaching staff and players.
- Situations can be flexible, but absolutes are non-negotiable.
- Use the wisdom you received from past experiences, coaches, teachers and mentors.
- Focus on developing players instead of wins and losses.
- Remember to keep the joy in the game.