What is a coaching philosophy?

A coaching philosophy includes extrinsic factors such as:

  • how the coach wants their team to approach and play the game;
  • how the coach wants players to interact with each other both formally (e.g. leadership groups) and informally (e.g. in the locker room).

A coaching philosophy also includes intrinsic factors such as:

  • how the coach communicates with players, team management, parents etc.;
  • the relationship the coach has with players;
  • the coach’s core values.
(English) It can simply be defined as “an attitude held by a coach that acts as the guiding principle for the training and development of a team”.


Factors that impact upon a COACHING philosophy

Arguably, a coach does not develop a coaching philosophy, they discover what their philosophy is through conscious reflection. The starting point should be to ask themselves “why do you coach?” Once a coach understands this, they are on the way to developing (or discovering) their own coaching philosophy.

A coach’s general approach or philosophy towards coaching should ensure a consistent, positive impact on their players. A coaching philosophy is individual and reflects both the coach’s personality and their coaching objectives.

A coaching philosophy incorporates aspects such as teaching style, communication, strategy, leadership style and managing the group dynamic. There are a number of factors that will influence a coach’s philosophy, including:


  • experience as a participant in sport (whether basketball or another sport);
  • coaches that they have had;
  • the level they reached as a player;
  • the influence of coaches and mentors when an assistant coach;
  • opportunities to observe experienced coaches and experience different styles of play.

Training and Education

  • attendance at coaching courses or clinics;
  • formal qualifications such as degrees or diplomas;
  • professional development opportunities – observing other coaches, observing other sports.


  • the influence of “coaches” who have had a profound impact during their life (including school teachers and managers in business);
  • learning from a mentor in a formal setting (e.g. working with a more experienced basketball coach).


  • the coach’s natural communication style;
  • the coach’s approach to the game – e.g. conservative, aggressive, risk taking.

The following principles may assist a coach to develop their overall coaching philosophy:

  1. Be yourself
  2. Be consistent
  3. Define coaching objectives – why do you coach? Why do your players play?
  4. Establish rules
  5. Build and nurture relationships with athletes
  6. Be organized
  7. You will need help – how do you involve assistant coaches, team management, club administration
  8. Help athletes manage stress
  9. Focus on the big picture

Does your philosophy differ between teams?

A coaching philosophy should be reasonably constant over time and apply equally to different groups of players. The goals of each player or group may vary and the strategies developed to achieve those goals may also vary, but the underlying philosophy of your coaching is likely to be the same.

An area where the philosophy may seem different is that with junior teams the philosophy may be to focus on development and with senior teams winning is more of a focus.

However, the coach’s philosophy is not changing, just the context in which they are coaching.