A few years ago I was ask to interview for a coaching position with a small liberal arts university in Pennsylvania. While I wasn’t overly thrilled with the prospect of relocating, I decided to go through the process of submitting my application. As is standard for many collegiate coaching applications, I was asked to submit a paper outlining my ‘coaching philosophy.’ I have played many years of elite level baseball and been fortunate to have been coached by some of the games great coaches, but I had never actually put in to words my coaching philosophy. Looking back I probably could have done a better job at presenting a clear picture of how I wanted to coach. Ultimately I wasn’t awarded the job, but the process of formulating a coaching philosophy was well worth it.
Over the past few years, I have paid far more attention to who I am as a coach, and who I want to be. My coaching philosophy has morphed and evolved over the years, but one thing is for certain, I now have a far clearer picture of what my philosophy is. This cannot be said for the vast majority of youth baseball and softball coaches. I urge coaches to put something down on paper and start formulating your own philosophy.
For coaches lucky enough to have assistant coaches, it is important that all members of the coaching staff share the same coaching philosophy. There is nothing more frustrating for a player than to constantly hear contradicting philosophies. I guess there is an exception to this rule. In the event coaches on the same staff hold differing philosophies, it is important that each coach is allowed to perform their function in the best way they see fit. Hitting coaches should be allowed to work with the hitters. Pitching coaches should be allowed to work with the pitchers. If you have an infield/outfield instructor, they should be allowed to run the defence as they see fit. The role of the head coach is to allow each coach to perform their function and get the best out of each player and coach.
I have played on many teams where there developed a philosophical conflict. On some occasions it worked itself out, on others the assistant coach was ultimately relieved of his duties. Great managers know how to manage people. You might not always agree with their methods or reasoning, but ultimately a great manager will either allow the coach to succeed, or they look for a more suitable alternative. Coaches who wish to muddy the waters of another coach’s message serve no other purpose than to confuse the players and possibly create a lack of trust in the coaching staff among the players.
What type of coach are you? Do you aim to motivate by showing confidence in your players or create a fear of failure? Do you focus on breaking the game down in the smallest most fundamental skills or do you look at the larger picture? Is it your priority to win now or provide players with the opportunity to develop their game and possibly go further in the game, maybe even a career? These are all questions you need to ask yourself, and until I was forced to write them down I was not entirely sure myself.
Our Diamond Dreams coaching staff have a unique approach to coaching. I am confident most clients would agree it is a style of coaching that can only truly be appreciated by those who have been fortunate to have been coached by Diamond Dreams over the years. We believe in developing a players overall skill set and teaching them how to make adjustments to their own game. To see what an opponent is trying to do and react accordingly to achieve a favourable outcome. I’m sure you have all heard the own parable “give a man a fish, feed him for one day. Teach him to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” Same philosophy!
So coaches, for the benefit of yourself, your staff, and your players, start writing down what your coaching philosophy is. Think about it and critique it over the years. I guarantee you will become a better coach and a better manager for it.