In basketball the game revolves around teamwork from all the players on the team. This teamwork is developed by the coach who organises everything in games and also in training. A coach is someone in charge of training an athlete or a team (eLook [online]). It is also said by Lyle (2002) “The role of the coach is to direct and manage the process that leads to the achievement of identified (and normally agreed) goals. This involves the integration of the performer’s aspirations and abilities” (p.38). The thoughts of the players on any team are very important and vital for team cohesion. So the coach needs to have the correct philosophy to involve everyone.
Cassidy et al (2009) say “Despite the limitations with the lack of research on what constitutes quality coaching and a quality coach, we have pragmatic and philosophical reasons for believing that a focus on quality coaching is preferable to a focus on effective coaching or an effective coach” (p.49).
The purpose of this essay is to show how philosophies are key in coaching a team to success. This will be done by showing the different parts of philosophy using definitions, key terms and analytical studies done by past and present successful coaches and theorists. It will also look at how communication plays a key role in how well the players get on with the coach of the team. This could also play a big part on the choice of teaching style the coach decides to use.
A coaching philosophy is a set of values and behaviours that serve to guide the actions of a coach (Wilcox and Trudel, 1998). A coach needs to know their philosophy well so they can tell their players about it. This allows them to understand why their coach is motivated at the sport and this way they can start to gain the same desire as him. Cassidy et al (2009) say how “The value of developing a philosophy is that it allows both coach and athletes a base from which to build and learn according to a consistent, coherent way of thinking” (p.57). The coach needs to start by explaining to his players about himself and to put in plain words his strengths and weaknesses. After this the coach can then show his views on points in the sport they play.
Honey and Mumford (2000) explain that they believe that the way that all performers learn falls only into four categories. These categories include activists, reflectors, theorists and pragmatists. So this means that when a coach starts to train his players, he needs to think about which category each individual would fall under. After this he can start to think about the different way in which he could apply his knowledge and techniques to benefit them. An activist is a player that involves themselves fully with no bias in new experiment.
Their philosophy is that they will try everything at least; this is because they are open minded, not sceptical and thrives at a challenge. This is good as they then will not resist changing. The problems with this sort of player are that they may take action without thinking, which could cause them to take unnecessary risks. A coach has to recognise this and base a training program around the type of style they would like to learn in that would help apply methods to improve the weaknesses.
A reflector is a performer that likes to step back and observe. This way they can watch team mates in training and think before coming to a conclusion on what to do when they come into the situation of either the drill about to be performed or a game situation.
Their philosophy is to be cautious which means they are slow to make decisions and may not take enough risks. They are good at listening to others which means they are thorough and methodical. A coach can look at a player like this and work them into a training routine where they can improve the speed of their decision making. This way they can focus more on this importance rather than techniques which they may already understand how to do.
A theorist is “A person who forms theories or who specializes in the theory of a particular subject” (TheFreeDictionary [online]). These types of players use observations to make theories. They are perfectionists that will not rest until things are right. Their philosophy prizes rationality and logic. By having this drive they are good at asking probing questions and have a disciplined approach.
Problems could occur as they do have a low tolerance for uncertainty. They are full of should and musts which could also become quite demanding. While thinking about the fight they have to get everything right the coach needs to put this into perspective with the other players as ego could start to take place and team bonding may break down. To stop this from happening the coach needs to set boundaries for all the players.
A pragmatist is someone who tries out ideas in practise. They like to search for new ideas and they are technique orientated. There philosophy is that there is always a better way. They are practical and realistic so when it comes to training they will only try new ideas that would be relevant in a game situations rather than wasting time trying something that would not work well during the game.
They are straight to the point and not too interested in the basics. They are impatient with waffle and are not people orientated, so when it comes to training the coach needs to make sure they listen to the other players when they are making points rather than letting them think they know everything and don’t just try to go and do their own thing. The coach needs to teach them patience and make it clear that they still need to practise the basic fundamentals to become a better player.
A coaching philosophy develops a long term approach and a code of conduct for the team to follow. This would help set priorities, allowing good decisions to be made. The coach needs to convince his players of his philosophy rather than making them do what he wants, as this builds up commitment and trust which over time and effort helps come out with wins. There are a number of things that can challenge a coach’s philosophy that include parents, rivalries, media and player behaviour. Also the time of season can also have an effect as some players may become busy with other activities such as work during certain months.
Communication is something that a coach and player need to do well in order to succeed in training and in games. With bad communications plays can break down and cause the opposition to gain advantage over the team. Also with poor communication it may lead to the player not practising properly as they believe they are already performing properly, but as the communication is not there they don’t understand where they are going wrong. “Until you have shared information with another person, you haven’t communicated it. And until they have understood it the way you understand it, you haven’t shared it with them” (Barker, 2000).
Communications starts by thoughts and ideas coming to a coach’s mind. They then translate this into a message and select a channel to deliver this message, be it verbally or non-verbally. The athlete then receives this message and interprets this based on past experiences. From this they then respond by causing an action. When communicating the coach and athlete need to be on the same terms so they understand the sending and receiving of the messages. These messages need to be delivered in a constant manner either verbal or non verbal so they can interpret what is being said. The context and emotion is vital also as this could put in extra detail on a message being put across. By having this the receiver can recognise the strength, weakness and importance of the message.
The type of coaching style that is used in training is key as this can change the way in which a player improves. Lyle (1999) explains that “Coaching style refers to the distinctive aggressions of behaviours that characterise coaching practise” (p.156). There are two types of coaching styles that include autocratic and democratic. Autocratic is described as “Taking no account of other people’s wishes or opinions; domineering” (OxfordDictionaries [online]).
This explains how with autocratic coaching style the entire decision making is made by the coach. Also with autocratic coaching styles the feedback is generally negative with directive communication. Whereas with democratic coaching style the decision making is more performer led. It also involves positive feedback and is centered more towards the person rather than the task. This is different to autocratic as it is task centered and is goal orientated rather than process orientated.
From the information discussed above it can be determined that a coach needs to be well organised when deciding on what to do in training, as it can have a profound effect on his athletes improvement. For the players to trust him he needs to communicate well with them so they can get the idea of his philosophy. Once they have gathered all the relevant information from his philosophy they can then start to become more independent as a player and build a stronger relationship with the coach. The creation of the independent athlete will not always mean that he or she moves on beyond the influence of the coach but that a different set of strategies and resources and needs come into play (Bullock and Wikeley, 2004).
•eLook (2011). Available at: http://www.elook.org/dictionary/coach.html (Accessed on: 15 November).
•Cassidy, T, Jones, R L and Potrac, P (2004) Understanding sports coaching: The social, cultural and pedagogical foundations of coaching practice. London: Routledge.
•The Free Dictionary (2008). Available at: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/theorist (Accessed on: 15 November).
•Cross, N and Lyle, J (eds.) (1999) The coaching process: Principles and practice for sport. Oxford: Butterworth: Heinemann.
•Oxford Dictionaries (2011). Available at: http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/autocratic (Accessed on: 15 November).
•Lyle, J (2002) Sports coaching concepts: A framework for coaches’ behaviour. London: Routledge.
•Wilcox, S and Trudel, P (1998) Constructing the coaching principles and beliefs of a youth ice hockey coach.
•Honey, P and Mumford, A, (2000). The Learning Styles Helpers Guide. Maidenhead, UK, Peter Honey Publications.
•Barker, A. (2000) Improve your communication skills. Kogan Page. London
•Bullock, K. and Wikeley, F. (2004) Whose learning? The role of the personal tutor. Maidenhead: Open University Press.