Ideology and Foundation of Coaching Philosophy

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In other words, the idealistic rhetoric of a coaching philosophy is unlikely to be seamlessly achieved in the complex and messy realities of coaching pedagogy. Therefore, more authentic and detailed pictures of coaching practice are needed (Hall et al, 2015) A coach’s ‘philosophy’ above all else will inform their coaching (Cassidy, Jones, & Potrac, 2009; Lyle, 2002) and is argued to be central to understanding a coach’s behaviour (Cassidy et al., 2009; Jenkins, 2010; Jones, Armour, & Potrac, 2004; Lyle, 2002; McCallister, Blinde, & Weiss, 2000, inter alia) in (partington and Cushion, 2016) A central issue, therefore, is not only the complexity of philosophy or coaching, but also definitional and conceptual incoherence (Cushion and Partington, 2016) In reality, coaches’ ‘practice theories’ or ‘philosophies’ are a social system of beliefs, structures and practices; an ideology, a systemised influence on the social construction of knowledge (Devís-Devís, 2006) in (Cushion, Partington, 2016)

This suggests that coaches’ pre-established beliefs would identify them with a particular coaching role as a result of their life experiences (Nash et al 2008).
In addition, although limited in number, empirical studies conducted in coaching (e.g. Nash et al., 2008; Robbins et al., 2010) tend to identify coaches’ different perceptions of philosophies. Such findings are far from philosophical in nature, and instead, are largely the reproduction of coaching rhetoric, truisms and value-laden ideologies (e.g. Bennie & O’Connor 2010; Collins et al., 2011; Schempp, McCullick, Busch, Webster, & Mason, 2006). This research has offered little in the way of critical, philosophical analysis and has even less to say about the complex production of coaching discourse (Partington and Cushion, 2016)

Against this backdrop, coaches are left to define their own ‘coaching philosophy’. When this occurs it does so within coaching’s culture (Cushion & Jones, 2014), where coaches come to accept and value certain types of knowledge over others and perpetuate these perspectives through practice (Cushion et al., 2003). This, in turn, creates a highly contextual discourse that imposes and enforces a ‘correct way’ to coach (Cushion, 2013; Cushion & Jones, 2014). (Cushion and Partington 2016)

Consequently, the ‘coaching philosophies’ currently described are not philosophical in nature [in the sense of being abstract, detached and rationale conceptualisations of coaching (Armour, 1997)], but merely what Green (2002) calls ‘mythical ideas regarding the supposed worth of their subject’ (p. 65). (Cushion and Partington, 2016)
Of the empirical work carried there remains significant conceptual incoherence and confusion where ‘coaches notions of their philosophies appear more ideological than philosophical’ (Cassidy et al., 2009, p. 58). (Cushion and Partington 2016) instead argued that what is currently presented as coaching philosophy is itself an ideology. This ideology overemphasises coaches’ agency and conscious action and reflexivity, while underestimating the significance of social structure on coaches’ dispositions and the degree to which practice is unconscious. (Cushion and Partington 2016).

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A philosophy is based upon beliefs, those formed through sport as a participant and coach, and based upon educational background and life experiences [O’sullivan, 2005]. A personal coaching philosophy can be viewed as a tool to enable coaches to question their practice and develop their own understanding and knowledge, as well as their performers [Reynolds, 2005]. This practice does not convey the complexities and contradictions inherent in the formulation and subsequent expression of a formal coaching philosophy (Nash et al, 2008)

Nash et al (2008) found that Perhaps, as the results of this study suggest, coaches initially see little value in a philosophy as they are attempting to cope with more tangible aspects of coaching practice, such as session content and organisation. Novice coaches do not appear to have a unified understanding of what it means to develop a coaching philosophy. This can lead to confusion, especially as a philosophy is individual, complex and suited to context. Critique of the above studies required.

For Karpel [2], the coach’s philosophy reflects the foundation that ultimately guides and directs coaching practice. Similarly, Reynolds [3] stated that a coaching philosophy clarifies many aspects of the coach’s delivery and presents their core values and coaching methods. According to Parkin [5], coaches should develop a system for conducting their coaching based on personal truths, principles, attitudes and values. Further to this, Parkin [5] states that a coach’s system or philosophy can and should change over time yet provides clear guidelines for consistency, trust, cooperation, understanding and expectation, as it relates to discipline, teamwork and communication between all parties (Bennie and O’connor, 2010)

Bennie and O’connor (2010) found the participants in the current research outlined that professional coaches possess their own unique philosophy of coaching with each coach describing their main values, attitudes and objectives for why they coach as they do. The coaches and players in the present study place a strong emphasis on Humanistic goals for their coaching programs with their desire to develop the player and the person. In fact, one of the key findings in this research is that the Humanistic ideals of developing the player and the person – once thought to be incompatible with principles of performance sport.

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