I believe that every football coach should have a solid coaching philosophy. Your coaching philosophy is one of the most important attributes you can have, as it forms the foundations for everything that you do.
Your philosophy will help create your training sessions, it also dictates how you coach the team in terms of what you say to them and how you handle the players.
Your philosophy will guide you with every decision you make throughout your coaching career, which is why it is imperative you take the necessary steps to develop the right coaching philosophy.
In this article, I will mention the key things you must do to help develop your own coaching philosophy.
What is a coaching philosophy?
A coaching philosophy is a blueprint for every coach to follow. It is your vision, values, and principles that form the base of your philosophy, this will decide what you do, why you do and how you behave as a coach.
Many coaches, especially at the grassroots level, focus on short-term goals instead of long-term goals.
All coaches should have a long-term plan that you should stick to throughout.
This may alter slightly as you progress because you never stop learning as a coach, you must always be ready to add to your philosophy as methods never stay the same and every player learns differently.
Having an idea of how your team will play from the beginning, will help you develop the training sessions that will produce your style of play.
Not having a coaching philosophy is like setting off on a long-distance journey without planning how you will get there.
Every session I develop will always relate to my coaching philosophy, without it I wouldn’t achieve my end goal, to develop player’s who are comfortable with the ball in every position.
I want my players to play with expression and be creative on the field, whilst still having a sound tactical awareness.
My players must have a strong work ethic, willing to learn and most importantly enjoy my coaching sessions.
It is important that you have a player-centered approach with your philosophy because ultimately the player’s development is the priority.
How many medals you can achieve or matches you win come second to the progress of your players, so ensure you find a way to build your approach towards those goals.
What if my club doesn’t have a philosophy?
“Individual commitment to a group effort, that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Vince Lombardi.
It’s quite simple, if your team doesn’t have a clear coaching philosophy then you should do your utmost to change that.
You cannot expect every player to progress the same way if all your coaches are following a different plan or even worse no plan at all.
The club’s philosophy should be the first thing that is mentioned when a coach or player is brought into the team. If a club has a philosophy and stands by it, then the coaches will benefit from this.
Having a clear philosophy at your club will make sure that there is a clear pathway for the players starting from the youngest right through to the seniors at the club.
Often coaches are not given a clear idea of what’s expected when they join a club, especially at the grassroots level.
This leaves many coaches unsure of how to gradually progress the players each year, resulting in the player’s development suffering.
Without guidance your coaches cannot achieve consistent results, meaning you won’t consistently produce top players at your club.
If you want the best coaches for your club then you will need to have a strong philosophy in place.
If you were to look at the clubs who have a certain structure in place you will see that they tend to attract the best players and coaches.
Others start to notice and your club will start to develop a reputation for the philosophy that they use, thus attracting others who share the same ideas.
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Henry Ford.
How to develop your coaching philosophy!
Developing your coaching philosophy isn’t a quick process. In fact, throughout your coaching career, you will always be adding to your coaching philosophy, improving it throughout. There are many ways you can develop your coaching philosophy and I highly recommend you try the following ways:
- Find a mentor! – If you spoke to all the great coaches around the world you would usually find that at some point in their career they had a mentor. You can take many coaching courses but they won’t compare to the guidance of an experienced coach can give you.
- Read books by great coaches! – Many good coaches have written very informative books and blogs to help others learn from them. I have listed some books that I recommend in one of my earlier posts on how to become a top youth football coach: a guide for parents and coaches, all books will help develop your philosophy.
- Watch other coaches! – I really encourage that you watch other good coaches at work. Watching coaches on a regular basis will give you lot’s of ideas that you can then bring into your own coaching methods. Ensure that whoever you decide to see has a similar philosophy to you. You don’t want to see a coach who has a completely different take on how you want to play the game.
- Develop a style of play! – At some point, you will need to develop a system that will connect all your new ideas from the training ground to the real game. A style of play is your team’s identity, Do you like to build possession through the thirds? or do you prefer to attack teams quickly with fast-flowing football?. It could easily be a mixture of the two but you need to have a clear idea of how you want to play the game. This will help you construct the sessions you need to achieve this.
- Take Action! – Once you learn something useful go out and give it a try. You will never succeed at anything unless you step outside your comfort zone. The best coaches are the creative ones, who are not afraid to try something that no one else is trying.
Learn from Failure!
It is important that you take every failure or defeat as a lesson in itself. To fail is not a bad thing, in fact, I have probably learned a lot more from the failures in my time then the successes. What you choose to do after each failure will define you as a coach, this is why it is very important to have your philosophy in place.
If you continue with no guidance then you will probably just think “I need to change my formation” or “my team is not fit enough, they need to run more laps”. As a coach this dated way of thinking will not help, you need to be better then that and stick to your coaching philosophy. Instead of going away from your principles for a quick fix, think how can you stick to your philosophy but do it better. Think about how can you structure each session better, so the players can learn your style of play? or what can you do to further motivate the players?.
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Robert F. Kennedy
If you do not have a clear coaching philosophy then you should begin to put one together. It will definitely help throughout your coaching career and give you guidance when there are difficult decisions to be made.
It is no coincidence that every top coach you read about today, will talk about how important their coaching philosophy is and that they will always stick to it even if things are not going well.
Remember if things are not working it is important not to give up on your philosophy and learn from your failures. Always think about how can you continue what you’re doing but do it better.
Kurtis is the Head coach at ‘Let’s Play The Game ’ and has over 15 years of coaching experience. He is also a head coach at a junior school and club level. Kurtis has experience in training and mentoring grassroots coaches in the West Midlands area. He holds a Diploma of Higher Education in Sports Coaching, FA Level 2 Badge Holder and is currently doing the FA youth module level 3. He has the Premier Skills Coach Education Award