Coaching Philosophy Paper

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1 Coaching Philosophy Paper PEH 477 Sarah Gerber 2/21/2013

2 For the past 12 years, I have had the privilege to cheer on many elite cheerleading squads, making it to The Cheerleading Worlds competition and being a member of a highly-ranked collegiate cheerleading squad at North Carolina State University. Now that my time as a cheerleader is coming to an end due to age and injuries, I hope to be able to coach cheerleading and tumbling to middle school and high school aged kids. As I consider cheerleading to be a serious sport which requires personal commitment and dedication, my preference is to focus on developing my coaching skills in an all-star or high school setting. All-Star cheerleading programs are focused on producing highly skilled athletes and preparing them for the highest levels of competition as well as collegiate cheerleading programs. As a coach I will strive to set the expectation levels around the key characteristics of being humble and trusting, while at the same time being passionate and driven for success. Thus far, I have been able to volunteer at two different all-star programs as I have begun to develop my coaching skills and style. I believe that cheerleading, or any sport for that matter, has the potential to help teach children many life lessons such as time-management and perseverance, as well as important character traits including teamwork and humility. For example, it is just as important for children to learn how to be both gracious winners and good losers depending upon the situation. I believe that developing a solid coaching philosophy which embodies these traits is a critical component to my future effectiveness as a coach, as well as having first-hand experience and knowledge of the skills performed in cheerleading. It is also very important to keep up with my current First Aid, CPR, and AED certifications so that I can help insure the safety and well-being of the squads. To be a coach means I will need to inspire and be a role model for those with whom I come in contact. Based on my experiences thus far, including feedback from the all-star program owners, I feel positive about how my communication and coaching styles are progressing. I am careful to repeat the tactics which I valued and benefitted from while watching and interacting with other coaches throughout my cheerleading career, especially the of ringing the bell where everyone in the whole gym stopped what they were doing and 1

3 ran to watch the person who rang the bell show-off their new skill to cheering and clapping. And I am equally as careful so as not to repeat those which I believe are detrimental to someone s self-image and confidence, such as the yelling and negativity my middle school cheerleading coach displayed. Coaching at the all-star level will assuredly put me in a position to help refine my motivational skills by working with those of high school age to achieve their dreams of attending college and perhaps even being a collegiate athlete. I believe that the involvement in sports as a young person is very important because this is how individuals learn what they are made of and what makes them most fulfilled, which can in turn help them identify the type of person they aspire to become and what they want to accomplish during their lifetime. Through the involvement in sports, athletes will mature physically, psychologically, and socially. Martens quoted: You can t help others know who they are unless you know who you are. As a coach, teaching life lessons and using your own personal experiences and values to help form the values of younger people can help them become the best individuals possible. For example, as in a game or competition, young people learn that winning or achieving anything is accomplished through hard work and dedication. Athletics also teaches how to well-manage your time and how to balance having multiple responsibilities. In college, my coaches have expressed to me the importance of being a student before being an athlete. This lesson has been the reason why I have been so successful in my academics and have been able to balance both cheerleading and school. Athletes also learn how to work in a team and overcome obstacles such as conflicting personalities or views with another teammate. Having the ability to work well with others in all situations is a skill that an individual will use for the rest of their life. Coaches, and athletes, must be welcoming and accepting to all athletes regardless of their sex, gender, or race. For example, cheerleading has a high number of boys who are interested in same sex relationships. Although contemporary views may not accept gay people into sports, I strongly believe 2

4 it is crucial for coaches to be welcoming and non-judgmental of all athletes they develop regardless of their personal diversities. Sports have significantly affected my community and my family in many ways. Some of these ways include: allowing us to come together for events such as high school or college football and basketball games, giving those who might not make the team the first year in middle school something to work for, and helping us stay fit and healthy. For many years my family and friends have enjoyed supporting our local high schools and NC State University through attending the athletic events. To this day, my family has literally never missed an event that I have cheered at. In some amazing way, my family finds a way to make every single NC State cheerleading competition, football game, basketball game, as well as all of my sister s High School basketball and soccer games. These events reinforce family togetherness by showing our encouragement, advocacy and pride for one another. For me, having my friends and family at all of my events gives me motivation and confidence because I know they are all there to support me and believe in my skills and abilities. This involvement in athletics has kept everyone in my family very healthy and fit. My family enjoys all kinds of outdoor activities such as taking family walks, going on ski trips and tubing or wakeboarding on Lake Gaston. Spending this wonderful time with my family has been one of my favorite parts about growing up and I will encourage the parents of my future athletes to do the same with their families. And for those who many not be as lucky as I have been, I will commit myself to making every participant feeling as if they are a part of a family if I am the coach of their squad. I consider myself to have a cooperative coaching style. As a coach, I give my athletes the mentoring and coaching they need to be a successful athlete, but it is up to them to put the amount of effort needed to be successful. But while it is important to let cheerleaders to choose their level of effort, I also have to think about what is best for the team. I will always give my teams routines that 3

5 have to potential to win competitions and teach them the skills so they can perform each routine perfectly, but ultimately it will be up to the athletes how well they choose to execute the skills. This is where a strong coach comes into play, with only 2 minutes and 30 seconds to perform a routine and often hundredths of a point differentiating the first and second place teams; it is the spirit of the team and belief in each other that often determines the results. I also understand that I will need to become more accepting of the fact that not all participants are involved in the sport to be competitive or to cheer at higher levels. One of my weaknesses as a coach is balancing these different levels of motivation between each athlete. While I want everyone to work hard and become the best cheerleader they can be, I need to take a step back and realize that some athletes are just cheering for fun. One of my strengths that will impact my success as a coach is my knowledge of all of the aspects of cheerleading and that I know what it takes to be successful within the sport. I developed this coaching style while cheering in a competitive All-Star program in high school. I was very lucky to have such passionate and knowledgeable coaches in this program and was able to learn a lot from them. One specific coach, Eddie Sealey, really stood out to me and has made me into the athlete I am today. He was the coach that everyone loved and respected because of his enthusiasm and amazing chorography skills. He was able to choreograph routines for our team that led us to The Cheerleading Worlds for three years in a row. He understood every aspect of cheerleading and took the time to connect with every athlete, teaching them how to tumble and stunt in a way that made sense to everyone. This was amazing to me because he was able to teach us very difficult skills yet made them seem simple. I strongly believe that a good coach is one who excels at skills within the particular sport and is able to teach his athletes in the best way for them to master the skills. I also learned from Eddie how important it is to earn respect from every athlete because this raises the degree of trust and respect for the coach. Within the league of All-Star cheerleading, winning is taken very seriously. Teams train for several months to perfect a routine that will beat other teams from around the country. The amount of 4

6 hard work that is put into these routines is incredible and no one wants to get anything less than first place. As you get to the higher levels, teams begin competing at competitions such as state and regional competitions, hoping to win them so they can excel to higher competitions such as The Majors or Worlds. Coaches need to be fully prepared to give their teams routines that will out-score all of the other teams. One downfall of cheerleading is having judges that score your routine and determine your team s future. Just as in the business world, there is a judge who has a relationship with coaches or athletes of one of the teams, and therefore it becomes a popularity contest instead of a fair competition. As a coach, this is an unfair conflict that I am I sure I will have to deal with at some point in my career. A good way of preventing this conflict is signing my teams up to compete with cheerleading competition companies who I trust and am confident will score each team fairly. Unfortunately, especially in the higher level competition, I cannot always control who the judges are. The only way I can handle this conflict is by enforcing a team culture that acts with class and good sportsmanship. With this, hopefully my team will develop a good reputation and score well against other teams. From experience, I have learned how to use failure as motivation. No one likes to lose because it feels like all of your hard work was wasted, but overcoming failure and working even harder for the next competition or season is how many of my teams have been successful. As a coach, I can envision myself allowing my athletes time to move past the loss, but then my team will train even harder so they can benefit from the loss and avoid losing again. I can also see myself changing the routine a little bit so that the cheerleaders feel comfortable with the skills needed to perform the routine perfectly. I have also learned that the best performances are the ones where the routine is muscle memory, so I will push my team to perform the routine until it reaches this point. I know that making my team perform the routine many times may bring negative feelings to some of the athletes because of frustration and fatigue. I will also have to be careful to include core conditioning as repetition can also lead to injuries. But in the end, it will only make the team that more confident, stronger and able to perform that much better. 5

7 In my coaching environment, my hopes will be to have everyone working to achieve an established and shared set of goals such as winning competitions, working hard to be promoted up to the next level, and even a measure to insure everyone has some fun along the way. Striving for achievement by setting long term and short term goals are great ways for a coach to motivate their athletes to be the best they can be. My coaching style best exemplifies that achievement motivation theory because even if I am looking failure in the face, I will continue to work as hard as possible to be successful. I love the quote: Pain is Temporary, Pride Lasts Forever because I truly believe that no great successes are achieved without pain or sweat. For example, in high school when my All-Star team made it to The Cheerleading Worlds, which is the highest and most prestigious cheerleading competition in the world, I seriously sprained my ankle during practice two weeks before departing for the competition. My coaches sat me down, always with my best interest in mind, asking me if I was going to be able to tough out the pain until after worlds. Long story short, I decided to compete on that ankle and in the end, my team ended up placing as one of the top 10 teams in the world. In this case, I used intrinsic motivation to achieve a sense of satisfaction in completing my dream of competing at worlds. Just as my coaches did, it is important to demonstrate and encourage intrinsic motivation as long as it is in the athlete s best interest. If every member of my team has this level of motivation, then the team is sure to excel to high levels and be successful during their competitions. Another theory that best describes my coaching style is the achievement goal theory. It is very important that every athlete has a feeling of self-worth within their team and the sport. I would never personally put one of my athletes on a team where they are unable to help the team in some way. In cheerleading, certain cheerleaders are better at other skills than others such as someone being better at tumbling than stunting or visa-versa. With this in mind, it is important that every person is able to perform at least one large skill that makes them feel important. A couple specific examples of how I would motivate my athletes are encouraging team bonding activities and having a different individual bring a motivational 6

8 quote each week to practice. Team bonding activities are the best way for the team to become closely knit and be able to become a unit or family. When a team becomes a family and everyone feels included, the amount of skills they will be able to do as a team will be on a whole different level. Also, having someone bring a motivational quote and sharing it with the team each week at practice is a good way to encourage success and hard work. The team will strive to practice to become perfect or whatever the quote may be. Another great way to encourage team bonding as well as bring a sense of religion to the team, is having a team come into a circle before practice starts and share prayer requests and having someone say a prayer on behalf of the team. This only takes about five minutes but is a great way for people to share what is on their mind so their team members can support them. If a team member does not feel comfortable with this then, by all means, they are not pressured to join the circle. Setting consistent rules that apply to every member of the team is very important in order to develop respect and trust from your athletes. I have narrowed my team rules down to four very simple points: not allowing the use of drugs, no drinking in uniform or practice attire, having respect for coaches and teammates at all times, and coming to practice prepared and ready to work hard. These rules are able to be applied to each athlete s lives outside of cheerleading which helps build strong athletes as well as strong individuals in the future. Each member of my team will have two strikes, but if any of the rules are broken three times, they will be dismissed from the team. With this three strike policy I hope to show that mistakes in life do not just go away, they stay with you forever. Regardless of the circumstances, these rules apply to every athlete on my team and no exceptions will be made. While my coaching philosophy is very complex, I believe that I have the potential to develop very successful cheerleaders and lead teams to high level competitions. The most important part of being a good coach is having extensive experience and knowledge of the sport as well as having a well- 7

9 developed coaching philosophy. I am very thankful to have made it this far in my cheerleading career and to have had the opportunity to learn from many amazing coaches who have helped me develop my personal coaching philosophy. The All-Star cheerleading setting seems like a great fit for my coaching style and I look forward to learning more about myself and others as I gain more experience as a coach. 8

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