For The Love Of The Game

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I wrote recently about coaching ethics particularly the way some coaches had conducted themselves at the recent AJVC in comparison with similar actions that are NOT allowed, and have been harshly sanctioned, in professional sports.  Liam commented at length discussing coach’s integrity, the emphasis on winning leading potentially to drop out and coaching philosophy in general.  He raises some interesting points, to which I have some views.

Winning is important.  The reason to play a game with a score is to win.  It is silly to suggest otherwise or to try to skirt around that fact.  All coaches should be trying to win.  The relevant point here is the attitude to win ‘at all costs’.  I don’t subscribe to the ideal of winning ‘at all costs’ at any level.  While I am prepared to discuss the place, for example, of sledging and gamesmanship within a certain level (eg among professionals or even among the juniors of the same age), I think it is clear that sledging OF junior players BY adult coaches is clearly over the line.  The problem occurs when winning becomes important for the coach personally.  I have seen it often at junior level that the coach isn’t thinking about winning for the team, but rather winning for himself.  At that moment the team is just an extension of the coach’s ego.  I am sure that this kind of attitude turns players off very fast and could well lead to the drop that Liam talks about.

I spoke to a group in Melbourne last year where I brought up the idea of the coach’s role being first and foremost to teach young players a love of the game.  It wasn’t then, nor is it until now, more than just a thought in my mind.  I don’t know how a coach would go about it, or whether it is even something that can be consciously achieved.  I do know that personally I validate my success in coaching juniors not by the number of wins (perhaps I was lucky enough not to have had enough to cloud my judgement) but by the number of players I coached who continue in the sport in a variety of different roles and who remember their time in volleyball not as something they did when they were kids, but as something longer lasting.

Liam is 100% correct that it comes down to the coach’s philosophy, which could well be another post.

One comment

  1. Totally agree with how you validate your success Mark. I too coach a junior team at the AJVC & people always ask me ‘did you win?’, my response is always the same ‘It’s not about winning for me, it’s about creating a positive experience for the players’. Whilst winning is nice to also achieve, I never stress that it’s the be all & end all of playing at the AJVC.


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