Steven Poacher

STEVEN POACHER: Develop a coaching philosophy

DURING  a recent conversation with a coach who was interviewed by a county board for a coaching role within that county, he mentioned to me he was asked the question about his coaching philosophy in a manner about how he would set a team up.

You regularly hear pundits from a lot of team sports talk about the coaching philosophy of certain coaches. To be honest I feel that those who use the words ‘coaching philosophy’ sometimes get a little muddled about what they actually mean.

Particularly in our own game of Gaelic Games, I feel sometimes the words coaching philosophy are completely misunderstood by a lot of pundits. They perhaps get the phrase mixed up with strategies or tactics or game plans which are completely different things altogether.

Every single coach will have their own philosophy (or they certainly should have) and also their own thoughts on style of football and how the game should be played but the latter will probably be dictated by the group of players you are working with.

Develop your own coaching philosophy and believe in it. Some people get confused between a coaching philosophy and a style of play. They couldn’t be more different. A coaching philosophy is unique to every coach, and it symbolizes a set of values, principles and beliefs whereas a style of play may change depending on the group of players at your disposal.

For what it is worth, here is my own coaching philosophy which I have rewritten on a number of occasions but is unique to me and something I use in both school and club,

“Installing a spirit and togetherness in a group of players and providing a high level, energetic coaching environment which will help players reach their potential while also having fun. Everyone will be treated equally and no one individual whether that be coach or player is more important than the team. Ultimately the star of the team is the team!”

Your coaching philosophy develops and evolves over a number of years. I firmly believe it is your identity as a coach, what you stand for and how you will be remembered. Every second coach will have a different philosophy. No two will ever be the same.

Regardless, the first thing to remember when coaching is to be yourself, you simply cannot be anyone else. The great John Wooden use to say: “Time spent comparing yourself to others, is time spent wasted.”

Don’t let anyone try to mould you into something or someone you are not. Everybody’s coaching style is unique to themselves, be yourself, understand yourself, don’t make the mistake of trying to emulate a successful coach who has the complete opposite personality of whom you are, it will not work, just concentrate on growing to be the best coach you can possible be.

Always continue travelling on your journey as a coach. Coaching courses are only a small part of your journey. Do not be afraid to accept feedback from players, other coaches, observe other coaches, what is good practice, what is not, how could you adapt what they’re doing and bring it into your own unique coaching style.

As coaches we all need to improve and continually learn every day to help provide our players with the best possible knowledge.

Next Saturday we (St Joseph’s Newry) are offering a unique opportunity for coaches across the country with the recommencement of our famous coach education day. On the day Martin Clarke, Benny Coulter and Ciaran McKeever will all deliver a wide diverse range of themes from getting the most out of the warm-up to refining key skills and developing thinking players.

I have always said the greatest resource we have as coaches is each other and next Saturday October 23 is a great opportunity to test that resource. I remember reading a quote about teaching once which can be implied to coaching. It was from a guy called William A. Ward. It readd: “The mediocre teacher tells, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates but the great teacher truly inspires.”

That’s your goal as a coach to inspire as many people that you possibly can and create those good, long-lasting memories. Work is tough, life is tough, sport is tough but as a coach you can make a real difference.



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