Sunday, December 6, 2015

Are you sure you want to "coach to win"?

coach to win
"I'm a winner"

I have interviewed, supervised and mentored a lot of coaches and this declaration has been made more than once.

Most coaches are not involved in truly competitive situations.  And most are involved in age groups where "winning" shouldn't be the mandate.  Chances are most coaches or parents reading this are not in competitive situations.

You need to ask yourself a big question ... do you REALLY want to coach to win?  Even if you wanted to, can you coach to win?

Winning is not a sin.  Wanting to win is not a sin.  But the environment must be conducive to this coaching philosophy.  I coach at the college level and the environment is that of coaching to win.  I
am expected to coach to win.  Players who try out know the environment they are stepping into and they accept the possibility that they might be selected for the team , yet may not play much.  When I coach at the youth level, the environment is different so my coaching changes to suit.

For the record, I find coaching to develop far more demanding on me, as a coach, than coaching to win.  Both situations are equally rewarding and satisfying.

Also, for the record, I've let my compass go off direction and taken a competitive direction in some games that I shouldn't have.
 ...the culture you try to build could be extremely detrimental to the players.
Coaching to win and coaching to develop usually mean two completely different, and opposing, philosophies.

If you impose a coach-to-win philosophy where it doesn't belong, the culture you try to build could be extremely detrimental to the players.

You need to ask yourself a bunch of questions before declaring yourself a coach who coaches to win:
  • Why are you coaching to win?  Are you equating winning with happiness and losing with dissatisfaction? 
  • Are you coaching an age group where coaching to win is appropriate?
  • Are you coaching in a league where coaching to win is appropriate?
  • Are your players technically ready to be put under the kind of pressure that a winning mandate requires?
  • Do you have the technical and tactical knowledge as a coach to coach a team whose mandate is to win?
  • Are you prepared to build a team culture where players do not play equally?
  • Will your team culture include the possibility of players not playing at all during a match?
  • Will your team culture include the possibility of players not dressing for a game?
  • Do you have the credibility to coach in such an environment?  Will the players who do not play as much still come to training and trust you as a coach?
  • How will you deal with players who don't play as much? Do you have the tools to develop them to challenge for playing time?
  • Is your club ready to support and defend you for coaching decisions that you make?
  • Are your players' parents ready to accept your decisions even if it means their child plays less?  Will they keep their children in your program?
  • If your team is a pay-to-play scenario, how do your answers to the previous questions change?
  • Are you coaching to win because you feel pressure from a small group of parents? 
If you are in a true scenario where you coach to win, I hope you enjoy it.  I do. And remember to stay honest with everybody involved at all time. 

If you are trying to force a true coach-to-win mentality where it doesn't belong, God help you ... and your players.

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