Example Of Personal Statement On Define Your Coaching Philosophy
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There are high hopes for an aspirant elite level coach, along with great dreams and the desire to succeed. At the beginning of the road, a debutant coach is guided by theory and motivational sports coaching movies, dreaming to become the next Jimmy Dugan or Coach Carter. Besides motivation and passion for coaching, an aspirant elite coach requires preparation, hard work and most importantly, a vision. Having a direction that he intends to pursue, this High School level coach describes his envisioned pathway to becoming an elite level coach, developing the athlete’s individual and team performances, while permanently targeting to improve his coaching style, for better helping his team players to grow. This personal statement describes the applicant’s envisioned coaching style and coaching philosophy, defining his personal success definition, while comparing his targeted coaching image with real or fictive coaches’ personalities. While he is charmed by the coaching stories presented in movies, the debutant coach demonstrates self – awareness and a consistent vision, which he plans to pursue gradually, taking into consideration the challenges and difficulties associated with a coaching career.
Key words: aspirant elite coach, road, coaching movies, Jimmy Dugan, Coach Carter, elite level coach, coaching style, coaching philosophy.
As he steps on the volley field, a wave of high hopes floods him like a powerful tide, leaving behind the awareness of the hard work and challenges that he will have to face for reaching his goals. While he is currently a High School level coach, he envisions himself training an elite level team, guiding athletes to achieve top performances and shaping the individuals’ motivations and commitment (Sotiriadou & DeBosscher, 2013). The road to that dream is a lengthy one, requiring his own motivation and commitment, in addition to constant energy directed to achieving this goal. Having achieved the Level 1 in coaching, wherein he mastered the foundation and development of coaching, he trains a high school volley ball team (Millman & Morque, 2006). Further pursuing his education, he will need to achieve Level 2 certification which will allow him to enter the intermediate coaching course (Millman & Morque, 2006). At this point he will achieve increased autonomy in coaching, while nevertheless receiving guidance and mentorship regarding his coaching style, training skills and a full evaluation of his coaching activity. He knows that he will put all his effort and more into obtaining positive feedbacks, which will allow him to move to the advance coaching courses, which will bring him closer to his dream of coaching elite level teams. After he will pass Level 3 certification for training the advanced players, he will need to complete Level 4 program, permitting him to train elite, state teams, where he sees himself for a long time, guiding and developing young professional athletes (Millman & Morque, 2006).
He is conscious of the fact that his devotement and past results, in class and on field, would greatly contribute to his success along this envisioned pathway. Nevertheless, his road to becoming an elite level coach must be paved with constant personal successes, which will enable him to take his career progress gradually, touching each milestone step by step. He knows that reaching his goal will not be easy, but as Jimmy Dugan says in “A League of Their Own”, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it” (in Marshall, 1992). One thing he is confident about is that he will enjoy every moment of the game, learning from his mistakes and will pursue his goal with passion and excitement at every step along the pathway.
He is currently focusing on becoming an intermediate level coach, achieving and owning the consistent coaching education. Activating as a coach for intermediate level teams will be challenging, because he understands that he will face diverse personalities, mixed goals from the members of the team and various approaches to winning and playing (Martens, 2012). He already experienced such challenges as a high school coach. He currently strives to develop his own coaching style and philosophy for adapting it to beginners, intermediate, advanced or elite level teams that he will coach, forming the team’s spirit by understanding the individual players in order to know how to motivate them (Cassidy, Jones & Potrac, 2004). For being able to inspire others, he knows that he still has to work on his coaching personality, enriching his knowledge and understanding his true self, which would permit him to know his players better (Martens, 2012).
Coaching, as well as being an athlete, involves multiple potential benefits, such as having fun, growing (professionally and personally) and winning, which are the three main objectives that one can get out of a successful coaching (Martens, 2012). He knows that victory is important and he aims to win every game, but this is not his sole purpose coaching. For his own coaching objective, he desires to help athletes to discover themselves, to know their physical and psychological potential and overpass their own limits (Becket & Hill, 2012). In the same time his objective is to continuously learn how to improve his coaching and his relationship with the players, becoming better and developing himself every day. With a constant focus on his coaching program, he aims to make it a school of performance, wherein self – development will be the main objective, a philosophy of winning will include accepting defeat and having fun while playing will be mandatory. Winning is important for him, but at this point his main objective is to help the players win by playing fair, being responsible about the ethics of the game and aware of the injury risks involved in the game they play (McNamee & Parry, 1998).
In pursuing his goals, he comprehends that he is in the position wherein he should define his coaching style. Knowing what he intends to achieve, he must be consistent to shaping the strategy to achieve his goal, by being committed to a coaching style (Martens, 2012). Aligned with his coaching goal of training an elite team and his immediate goal of coaching a beginners or club team, he identifies his coaching style as a mix of intense and nice-guy style, also incorporating the cooperative coaching style.
The intense coaching style is based on consistent planning and knowledge, eagerness for achieving more, motivating by example, hard work from both the team players and the coach, coach-centered decision making and relative overlooking of the less performing players (Lyle, 2002). He is already approaching this coaching style up to the point of overlooking the less performing players, which he considers a negative outcome of the intense coaching style. He disagrees with this approach, as his coaching ethics made him consider all players equally important for the team, regardless if they sit on the bench, are the top performers or disabled. He knows that he can only form team cohesion by giving all the players equal attention and growing together, guided by his coaching objective that developing the athletes and helping them grow leads to winning and not the other way around.
The nice-guy coach is liked and respected by the team, flexible with schedules and problems, being concerned for the wellbeing of the athletes, enforces positive motivation, forming team cohesion and a relaxed atmosphere, but his coaching style might be considered weak (Lyle, 2002). While he agrees with most of this coaching style’s features, he is reluctant to the flexible schedules, as he considers that the lack of discipline is a negative aspect of the nice-guy style, inconsistent with developing one-self and achieving high performances. He does not believe that by adopting the nice-guy coaching style he is considered a weak coach, because he is committed to generating performances through hard work, engaging his and his team’s efforts in achieving the envisioned objectives.
In the decision – making process, he will also incorporate the cooperative coaching style, as he intends to share information and communicate with his team regarding the decisions. Nevertheless he is aware that the responsibility of leading, guiding and creating pathways and strategies will only be his (Martens, 2012). While the intense coaching style is an authoritarian one, the nice-guy style and the cooperative style are more on the democratic side. The aspirant elite level coach desires to mingle the authoritarian and democratic coaching styles, applying them in different areas of practice, as the situation requires (Cassidy, Jones & Potrac, 2004).
His coaching objectives are not only aligned with the mixed coaching style that he targets, but they also impose it. The specificities of his objectives of primarily aiming to develop performing athletes, pushing their limits and then to achieving victory, while having fun, require intense work from both the team members and the coach, an attribute characteristic to the intense coaching style. Likewise, his objectives define the nice-guy coaching style, because for helping the athletes to grow physically, psychically and socially, he needs to be aware of their problems and help each of them overcome their barriers. The cooperative style will also contribute to reaching his objectives, helping him to develop his team’s cohesion through sharing his decisions and game strategies. The mix of these three coaching styles, with emphasis on hard work, motivation by example (intense coaching), understanding the team members’ problems, developing team cohesion based on a relaxed atmosphere (nice – guy coaching) and team communication (cooperative coaching) aim to enhance athletic development. In the end, this is the main objective that this aspirant elite level coach targets.
The combination of these coaching styles is what he strives to appropriate as his own coaching style. Currently, however, he still has to enrich his coaching knowledge and gain an enhanced personal development for becoming more cooperative and more sensitive to other people’s problems. He is currently driven by his passion and enthusiasm, which guides him to always requesting more from people with whom he works, which could easily lead to emotional outburst (Lyle, 2002). Just like Jimmy Dugan (in Marshall, 1992), he must shape his coaching style for reaching his coaching goal of training elite teams, and permanently learn to give up on his pride and obstinacy that currently describe him.
Although he initially considered it an abstract concept, highly impractical (Carless & Douglass, 2011) he currently comprehends the importance of consolidating a coaching philosophy for developing his coaching experience through learning and practice (Burton & Raedeke, 2008). Jimmy Dugan (in Marshall, 1992) was guided by his coaching philosophy of developing a professional baseball women’s team, in a time wherein women were ridiculed for playing masculine sports. Laurie Lawrence’s (swimming coach) coaching philosophy is to always be prepared, because the preparation is the key to winning and defeat is not something one must like, but something that must motivate them to work and prepare harder (Becker & Scott, 2012). Coach Carter’s (Carter, 2005) philosophy was to develop athletes not only through intense physical practice, but also through a constant focus on their education, considering it mandatory for their personal and professional development. Guided by all these models, the debutant coach is pursuing a coaching philosophy wherein he can form motivated and performing athletes by fostering a trust – based relationship with his team players, wherein he can gain his athlete’s commitment to progress with each game they play.
He considers that a coaching philosophy guided primarily on winning, as Laurie Lawrence emphasizes may lead to overload and at this point the coaching experience is losing one of its main objectives: having fun. Nevertheless, being prepared is a target that will shape his coaching philosophy. In his acceptation, however, being prepared means being better, overcoming one-self in each game, which is the key to developing a long – term winning philosophy. While he admires and shares Coach Carter’s (Carter, 2005) holistic approach on his coaching philosophy, his coaching philosophy does not currently overlap with other educational areas. Engaged by Jimmy Dugan’s coaching philosophy, he envisions himself leading a team to professional league, contributing to each performer’s improvement through constant attention and encouragement for overpassing themselves by devoting to hard work and discipline, without forgetting to have fun.
Compared to Jimmy Dugan, Coach Carter or Laurie Lawrence, he aims to exert a less authoritative, but intense coaching style, wherein, he would not hurt the players through aggressive display of authority. However, just as Coach Carter, he would get involved in solving his players’ problems, helping them to strive through difficult times and focus on their most important goal: giving their best in the game.
The aspirant elite coach is now walking across the empty volley field, where he can see himself standing by the bench, giving valuable indications to his athletes, motivating them to focus all their energy and effort on the game and encouraging them to aspire higher. He knows that there will be challenges and that his envisioned pathway will not be a soft one, paved solely with sunny days, but he is sure that this is his game, his future. The coaching style and philosophy that he is currently pursuing for achieving his goal and objectives are incipiently shaped. The reality of the practical coaching experience will determine him to revisit them, adapting them if needed, while sticking to his coaching goal, of training an elite team, and his coaching objectives, of achieving individual and team performances, victories and fun.
Becker, D. & Hill, S. (2012) Secrets of winning coaches revealed. Strategic Book Publishing.
Burton, D. & Raedeke, T.D. (2008) Sport psychology for coaches. Illinois: Human Kinetics.
Carless, D. & Douglass, K (2011) “Stories as personal coaching philosophy” International Journal of Sports and Coaching. Vol. 6, no. 1.
Carter, T. (2005) Coach Carter. New York: Paramount Pictures.
Cassidy, T., Jones, R. & Potrac, P. (2009) Understanding sports coaching. The social, cultural and pedagogical foundations of coaching practice. 2nd edition. New York: Routledge.
Lyle, J. (2002) Sports coaching concepts: A framework for coaches’ behaviour. New York: Taylor & Francis Group.
Marshall, P. (1992) A league of their own. California: Columbia Pictures.
Martens, R. (2012) Successful coaching. 4th edition. Illinois: Human Kinetics.
McNamee, M.J. & Parry, S.J. (1998) Ethics and sport. New York: Taylor & Francis.
Millman, R. & Morque, G. (2006) Raising big smiling squash kinds: The complete roadmap for junior squash. Austin: Mansion Grove House.
Sotiriadou, P. & DeBosscher, V. (2013) Managing high performance sport. New York: Routledge.
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