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Thinking About Your Coaching Style

How we coach is as important as what we coach, right? I wonder how many coaches actually take the time to think and reflect upon what kind of style they adopt as a coach. Perhaps sport administrators need to spend time reviewing the impact that a coaching style can have on an individual player, a team, and for the entire program. Without getting into research-oriented discussions about coaching styles, we can settle on reviewing three common styles: authoritarian, casual, and democratic.

Authoritarian Coach

The authoritarian coach is very organized and pays close attention to detail. Often times this person creates outcomes for the practice session and closely monitors how well the team has achieved these pre-planned objectives with the sole focus on winning. This coach may be very “performance oriented” and lacks the flexibility to listen and adapt to the needs of the team they are coaching. Many people would refer to this person as a micro manager hovering over the every move of the player without relinquishing power so that the players can become decision makers without fear.

Casual Coach

The casual coach may be the person who does not take the outcomes of each practice session seriously and comes to practice unprepared. In this style, the coach will ask the team for input and rarely uses their own formal influence to move the team or athletes in a positive direction. Players in this scenario may not feel like they are being coached at all since they get little guidance or teaching during the practices and games.

Democratic Coach

A democratic coach gets the most out of the individuals of the team by creating positive coaching environments including opportunities for players to make decisions. The coach is the ultimate teacher who is concerned with the development of the players’ skills and tactics evident in the practice sessions they create. Players enjoy working with this coach because they are learning (even when they make mistakes). Democratic coaches care about the needs of their athletes. These coaches are positive in their remarks and desire to see their athletes succeed.

Perhaps at times we can be each of these coaches, but I challenge us to think more about what kind of coach best suits the players we are instructing. Does our coaching style depend on the skill level of our team and age level we are working with? Do we need to adopt a different coaching style to handle different scenarios that occur throughout a season?

At the very least, we need to discuss the appropriate methods of communicating with our athletes, practice preparation, and coach preparedness to elevate the sport experience for our athletes. If we are to create positive learning environments, we as coaches and sport administrators must understand which coaching styles work for the athletes we are instructing.

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