What Do You Believe? (Or Developing Your Coaching Philosophy)


I love John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success…it was what Coach Wooden thought had made his teams successful.  I love the idea and spirit behind his pyramid and it’s served me well wherever I’ve coached.   Every time I start coaching a new team, this is the first thing we do as a team.

Week by week, we go through the blocks.  The team (who’ve previously chosen different blocks on the pyramid) will talk about what the blocks mean to them.  I have each of the blocks laminated on 8.5″ x 11″ paper and we literally build the pyramid on one of the gym walls.  This way, the team and I are on the same page in terms of what we think will make our team successful.  The first time I did the pyramid, I led it…not even close to as good as when the players lead.  I actually had a young lady write a spoken word poem about “poise” that shocked us all at its depth and creativity…we still talk about it even though she graduated a couple of years ago.

The pyramid is one of the things I believe in…part of my coaching philosophy.  Another part I learned my first year of coaching, which is a weird time.  I started coaching the year after I played, so I was still a player in my head, a coach in name only.  I enjoyed playing with the team and showing them how good I was…disguised as helping them learn.  I went to my first American Volleyball Coaches Association convention that year and learned from a prominent coach that I’d never be a great coach as long as I was trying to be a great player.  Now, my teams don’t see me play.  They see me coach and I think it’s better that way.

The last two things that round out my philosophy are preparation and availability.  My teams know that they can expect a well planned practice everyday…and they also know that they can come into my office anytime and chat about whatever.  Whether it’s something with the team or boyfriend troubles or they’ve just got a couple extra minutes and they don’t feel like going back to their dorm room.

Have you thought about your coaching philosophy?  Does your coaching staff know it?  Does your team know it?  I’d love to hear yours…please share in the comments!