Steven Poacher

Steven Poacher – Why every coach must have a philosophy

AS the year 2019 draws to a close, I reflect on all the very fortunate and privileged coaching positions I have been afforded this past year. From coaching in the primary schools and clubs in the Craigavon, Lurgan and Portadown area, delivering coach education workshops in 18 different counties in Ireland, coaching a number of sessions with clubs throughout Ulster as they prepared for their respective club championships, working with the Carlow senior footballers, starting to coach the young footballers in St Joseph’s, Newry and commencing work with the underage in my home county of Down again, I have been very lucky.

You regularly hear pundits in a lot of team sports talk about the coaching philosophy of certain coaches and to be honest I feel sometimes the words ‘coaching philosophy’ get a little muddled compared to what they actually mean.

Every coach will have their own philosophy 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 with 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 that 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. Try and observe other coaches, discover 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.

I remember reading a quote about teaching once which can be implied to coaching. It was from a guy called William A. Ward and it read “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.

A very happy and peaceful Christmas to all our readers and your families and hope you will continue to enjoy reading the Gaelic Life in 2020.

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