Example Coaching Philosophies from Sports Coaches

Collated by Liz Hanson - Client Director at Athlete Assessments

At Athlete Assessments, we have found that our readers have great interest in the coaching philosophies of other coaches. Now you can benefit from the philosophies that coaches have shared with us. You might find these useful in developing, or further defining what your own coaching philosophy is. Or you might simply be interested in finding examples of other sports coaches’ coaching philosophies.

Please contribute your coaching philosophy too! – Send us your comments and feedback.

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Bo Hanson, 4x Olympian, Coaching Consultant & Director of Athlete Assessments

"My coaching philosophy is: I am a firm believer "If you have knowledge pass it on to those who do not". I also believe that playing sports as a child, not only builds character and confidence but also gives them a sense of accomplishment. It also prepares them for life. Working as a team or as a team player. Not as an individual. I also feel it can bring a child out of his/her shell or shyness."
Coach George Hornung, Head Coach, Stafford Soccer Club

"Here is my philosophy: I am a coach because of my passion for my work. I am able to foster the growth of my players through the numerous opportunities I am fortunate to provide. I will mold a group of individuals to communicate, to be responsible and to hold themselves accountable. I believe in nurturing their dreams to be the best on and off the court.

I developed this into words when I attended the Women’s Coaches Academy a few years ago. I look at it often and keep a journal for my own use during the season to help me grow and develop as a coach “
Samantha A Lambert, Head Volleyball Coach, Rhodes College, Memphis

Click here to see our article on Athlete Centered Coaching

“My coaching philosophy is pretty basic: “To have an environment that encourages athletes to learn and develop on and off the playing field, to create a positive learning environment in good and bad times” I developed this by reading, listening and observing other coaches, Wayne Bennett, Bo Hanson, John Buchanan and John Wright.”
Mark Coles, Vanuatu Cricket

I think creating an environment that is relaxed and conducive to learning is important. In addition the athlete needs to be aware of the standards and behaviors that all the coaches and athletes are prepared to accept to help create the optimal learning environment.

The athlete needs to be given opportunity to develop his skill level in a structured learning environment that constantly challenges the athlete whilst providing both encouragement and support. Each athlete needs to develop their core skills constantly to provide them with a solid base as they progress in their sport. The athlete will benefit when exposed to challenging drills that require effective decision making and precise execution under pressure. The repetitiveness of these varied drills during practice helps develop competency and confidence in the athlete.

When dealing with highly motivated and committed athletes the level of individual communication is important giving them the opportunity to provide input to help deliver the program that is specific to their development. I believe if you can set some short term goals in consultation with the athlete this will provide them direction and motivation that will help to keep them on task.

Finally the coach needs to demonstrate effective leadership by maintaining the desired standards of behavior within the group that will instill confidence in all athletes knowing that their welfare and development is most critical.
Grant Jones, Toyota Cup Coach, Wests Tigers Rugby League Football

You may enjoy our article on Pre-Season Preparation Using the Grip Model

 “To open minds and hearts; enhance souls by growing righteous values within, and instill that one’s maximum effort on a daily basis is the only pure way to live an honest and fulfilling life.

Sport participation at high levels is not forever. It is reserved for a small percentage of the population. Providing an avenue for young adults to become great people is the only way I know how to change the world for the better. I developed my coaching philosophy based on what is important to me (what I have learned about life and myself). I learn from people and environments by detailed observation. I read and take notes. I use on-line videos and former great coaches to teach me more about life.
Coach Mark A. Keller

Thanks for the opportunity to share some ideas around my coaching philosophy. Simply put I try to build high self-esteem in each one of my players. I do that the same way an informed parent would do, by accepting the player for just who he is. That is the baseline and from there we build on the strength of his personality and work to shore up the areas that are not as strong. I believe a person will seldom if ever outperform his self-image. So the question is how do you accept a person for just who he is? It is my belief, if you get a team with all the players performing up to their positive confident self-image you will have a winning team.

How did I come to this conclusion? Studying my wife coach YMCA soccer, T-Ball, Basketball for 5 years as she coached our kids and other on her team and hardly ever losing a game. She was born with a natural knack of acceptance that I had to learn. I also learned from my stint as a family drug and alcohol counselor. My premise was if a child could recover his self-worth from the depths of addiction, then excellence would result if the same principles were applied to your average child wanting to get better.
Jay Loar. Director of Golf & Head Coach SMU Golf
Southern Methodist University - Men's Golf

Click here for our article on The Critical Role of the Coach

I believe in a coaching philosophy that is interlaced with "grace" (unmerited favor). If team members embrace this concept, they end up coming alongside of teammates, being encourager, offering forgiveness when necessary, helping teammates to succeed creating, ultimately, team success. Anyone can win a tennis match through skill or by cheating. It is playing with integrity, making the right choices during and after each point and playing with heart and no excuses that determines a successful tennis player at Smith College. There is no substitute for hard work and combined with the "servant-leader" philosophy of others first, success is inevitable. This is a tall order but we work across the four years of an athlete's time here to help the scholar-athlete to grow in this direction. It still is amazing to me to see the results of putting this philosophy in action.
Christine Davis, Varsity Tennis Coach, Smith College

The coaching philosophy I follow is an approach developed by and passed on from Tim Gallwey, (The Inner Game of Tennis) to Jim Loehr, (The Power of Story) to Alan Fine (InsideOut Development).

In traditional coaching success is achieved when the coach, as an expert puppeteer, orchestrates the actions of players according to his own vision. In this model the coach becomes the energy source which eventually runs dry.

In the Gallwey/Loehr/Fine style of coaching success is achieved when the coach, as an expert facilitator, removes the interference that blocks the potential of the player. In this model the player becomes the energy source, which not only never runs dry, but ends up igniting the passion of everyone around him.
Bob Skura, Mental Game Coach – Golf

Click here for our article on Do Your Athletes Care?

“Many people want to know if I coach like I outwardly appear to be which is assertive, aggressive, energetic and effusive. Many times I have been called a straight shooter. Some act like that is a bad character trait. I feel it is better to deliver honest news and clear and concise assessments rather than wishy-washy blather meant to assuage an individual’s self-esteem. When given the opportunity I would rather “go through the front door rather than run around the barn”.

I coach high school football and the last thing a 15 to 18 year old kid needs in his life is a coach constantly in his ear reminding him of how much he is wanting. He already has parents, friends, teachers and others to fill that role. I am an observer and I am a teacher. I use the inevitable failures of the game to instruct proper technique and game savvy.

Above all, I am a teacher, a father and a coach and want my kids to understand that their “life life” is longer than their football life. We all make mistakes, learn from them.”
Coach Brian Baggott (High School Football Coach)

Click here to see Bo Hanson speak about Coaching Styles

My philosophy is to learn about my athlete- not every athlete responds to the same method- some like the repetition, some get bored, some like coached sessions, group workouts, etc I have an extensive evaluation for the athlete to fill out and then we meet face to face…my goal is to learn what motivates the athlete (daily communication, weekly recap, email, phone, texting) what the athletes pain points are (what do they like the least and need the most help with), what is going on in the rest of their life….I gather a lot before we set up a plan- From there I am all about what is realistic, setting attainable goals- long term and short term and keeping the athlete engaged.

No cookie cutter plans, constant feedback and monitoring and regular communication. Come race day there are no surprises….we have practiced it all and emotionally gone through all that is possible.
Coach Julie Dunkle

Click here to see our article on Coaches Getting to Know Your Athletes

The essence of my coaching philosophy is based on long term development of athletes in their technique, tactics, mental approach and satisfaction in learning new skills or enhance existing skills.

I aim to coach athletes the basics in particular skills and then create more awareness how to apply it in competitive situations to see how they use it in their sport. Often during training a coach can stop the game or drill and explain what they like to see more of. In a competitive game or match this luxury is not available and the coach can only have limited influence on the athletes and on the game from the sidelines. Therefore to me it is important that athletes can assess, evaluate and correct themselves in competitive situations to produce the best possible performance.

In practice this means that the kind of coaching is dictated by the goals that have been set by the coach and athletes. Most of my coaching is in team sports and therefore involves also a chosen playing style. The coaching is done more on a group level than on an individual level. When there is any individual level coaching it is associated with specific tasks for that position and/or a combination of movements between two interconnecting positions. Often a difference in interpretation is the cause for redirection by the coach. In this process the coach will interact with the group and explain his interpretation and look to find agreement with the group to ensure moving forward in the same direction.”
Coach Ezra Duister

Click here to see our article on How to Improve Athlete Decision Making

“My teaching philosophy is simple, I always provide opportunity to develop their skills up and also learning environment that constantly challenging and enjoyable.”
Golam Faruk Suru, Bangladesh National Cricket Academy Fast Bowling Coach

“In giving any of my advice that I have gained from brilliant teachers and coaches there is one thing that stands out.
The fair and consistant treatment of all the players equally day in and day out. Understand that as coaches we can never stop learning and the moment we think we know everything it's time to get out of coaching.”

Chris Codden, Head Coach Manistee HS Wrestling

“My coaching philosophy is very simple, giving back what I was able to learn from my coaches, athletic director in training little kids who has zero knowledge in playing all sort of sports...”
Jennifer Dindin, PE Faculty Instructor/Athletic Coordinator, Philippine Volleyball Federation”

“I want to teach my athletes sportsmanship and how to have fun and to love the game. And knowing that winning is not the reason to play, it is to have fun with the experience and getting to know your team mates and to help each other when its needed.”
Coach Susan Phillips, Maine University

“Doing all things well. Work with confidence in order to develop the skills of an athlete.”
Dexter R. Descargar, Teacher III Dep. Ed.


“Always remain positive even in tough times, keep it simple as all sports are and never be afraid to make mistakes, its how players learn and how you as a coach learn.”
Mark Coles, Vanuatu Cricket

Be yourself. Understand yourself. Understand your players. Build their self-esteem. Biggest mistake I have seen is coaches trying to emulate a successful coach who was a complete opposite personality wise from who they were.
Jay Loar. Director of Golf & Head Coach SMU Golf
Southern Methodist University - Men's Golf

Remember you are here to help others not coach as you want to be coached- that does not work for everyone. Be open to feedback and solicit feedback so you can grow and adapt. Your first year you will make mistakes and it takes time to get in your groove.
Coach Julie Dunkle

In terms of developing my Philosophy, I feel like it is still a work in progress because I am still fairly young as a coach and developing all of my ideals. Here are a few things that really helped me this past summer:

  • I looked a lot at who I admired as a coach. I ask myself: What do I like about their style? What are a few of their non-negotiable coaching points that I totally connected with and how do I emulate those in my everyday actions as a coach.
  • I organized every facet that a coach has to deal with and put it on paper. I called these my “Pillars of Coaching”. For me it makes being a head coach not such a daunting task to know that these are the 5 basic areas I am going to have to deal with in coaching. Organizing my thoughts to simple concepts was huge for me. I am such a visual learner too, so putting this on a paper for myself to see was great.
  • Underneath my pillars of coaching, I made a foundation for myself. My foundation are the things that I bring to the game each and every day. I believe I labeled it “My Standard of Performance” This includes things like work ethic, attitude, rules, ways of life, etc. I made sure my foundation was something that I actually do and not something that would be deemed “the right thing to say, feel or do” as a coach.

This is all part of the process of me growing and being the best coach that I can be”
Coach Lizzy Lemire

 “Ask yourself: What kind of person do I want to be? How can I become that person? Take action by living as that person. It all starts with a choice – hold the door, or don’t. Respect everyone, or just people who can help you professionally. Understanding is developed through curiosity and learning. Develop your understanding and your perspective will shed the negative aspects of life. In short – Learn about life, learn about yourself, and learn about people. Your coaching philosophy will mirror your understanding and perspective.”
Coach Mark A. Keller

Click here to see information on Profiling for Coaches

“My advice to coaches is to remember that while at times it’s necessary to be authoritative your goal should always be to coach players past your own level of competence. To do that you must listen and learn the internal story that drives each player and when that story becomes focused just step aside and let the player(s) win.
Bob Skura, Mental Game Coach – Golf

Click here to see our article on Athlete Centered Coaching

“Development of a coaching philosophy starts at a very early age. In my case it started when I was a soccer player. As a player you learn from your coach in what he does during training, how he prepares teams for matches in a physical and psychological way. The identity your coach creates can leave a tremendous impact in you as a player and one that can form your ideas of a coaching philosophy in later life. When developing your coaching philosophy it is of the utmost importance that it is something that you stand for. Players and athletes will smell if you are just saying something or whether you are just saying things. As a novice coach it is good to look at as much related material as you can. All the information that you come across will help you recognize which aspects of the game appeal to you and from that you will start to develop your own coaching philosophy. It is your personal blue-print of recognizable traits as a coach. No second coach will have the same things. Another thing to do early on in your career as a coach is to observe other coaches. By observing you will start to see how effective coaches improve their players. You can learn a lot from their organization of training sessions, focus of the training, learning process involved for athletes and satisfaction with the coaching style and approach of the coach. Also feel free to approach experienced coaches after a training sessions to ask some questions you had while observing their training. Often coaches will only be too willing to spend 5 minutes or so as they will have done the same as a novice and appreciate the help they got when they were starting out. Finally, try to find a mentor coach to whom you can go with questions or just discuss things. It is good to have someone more experienced to bounce your ideas off and find what they say about it. This can also be done with the coaches you observe. Mentor coaches can often help you with building up your experience well so you keep on developing.”
Coach Ezra Duister

Click here to see our article on Creating a High Performance Coaching Style

“As coaches we need to improve and learn everyday to provide the best knowledge possible for our athletes. Above all make the experience FUN. Making the overall experience FUN = Retention for years to come.”
Chris Codden, Head Coach Manistee HS Wrestling

“Patience, virtue, dedication, courage, camaraderie, teamwork, passion and love of sports should always be with in you...coaching is not an easy task so always enjoy teaching/coaching and see the result as you go along competing with other teams...fame and glory should not be on top of your head...look into the future of the players you are dealing with... Winning and losing can come anytime...look not into the mistakes of the players instead, guide them through to excel in their chosen field of sports...”
Jennifer Dindin, PE Faculty Instructor/Athletic Coordinator, Philippine Volleyball Federation”

Give to the athlete the wholesome experience in any game, feel that they are important to the team.”
Dexter R. Descargar, Teacher III Dep. Ed.

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