Coaching Style


To start the semester off on the correct foot, both graduate and undergraduate students in the Principles of Coaching course discussed whether coaches should share decision making with their athletes, or if coaches should make all of the decisions themselves. Here are a few of the original posts:

By: Raphael Jenkins

                I strongly agree that decision-making should be shared among the athletes and coaches. I do believe that both a coach and player have valuable input for a team. A Cooperative coaching style not only shares decision making, but also gives accountability to both the players and coaches. This helps both sides grow as individuals and a team because they both are directly impacted by the decisions made during practice, a game, or in everyday life.

Referencing some of our reading materials, it lays out an acronym for the word COACH. One of the most important portion in my opinion was the “A”, which stood for audible. Knowing when to make adjustments is crucial. But it’s hard to get a feel for adjustments or what you can do as a team without consulting your players. You have to be able to access your players but players usually communicate how far they are willing to go. Rather is verbal or nonverbal communication, athletes communicate their willingness to adjust.

Bill Ramseyer stated in his article that, “Everyone will be treated fairly.” Introducing this fair mindset establishes that everyone is on an even playing field. Once you have a since of equity within the organization, responsibilities can be given. With responsibilities come consequences and having a clear set of standards for not only the players, but the rest of the staff of the organizations, everyone can be held accountable in the same way rather than having different procedures for different positions. This is important because like our injustices within legal systems, it can cause resistance within the organization.

Throughout all the readings I found a common focus on self-esteem. Coaching have a responsibility of giving positive feedback to their players and those within and around the organization. To me there is no better way of doing so than by giving them a since of ownership. When you give players the ability to make decisions for the team, their self-esteem rises immediately. Players who feel better play better. Even if you don’t win every sport contest, you as a coach will know that every time out you are getting the best effort from each player because of higher self-esteem and acquiring a stakeholder’s mentality. Players become stakeholders when they are given the ability to share decision making, thus giving them more incentive to be productive.

Ramseyer, B. (2011). Developing a successful coaching philosophy. In Winning football. Retrieved from

By: Mallory Junak

I like to share the decision-making with my athletes to the extent that they are prepared to make such decisions. It’s their team too, and sharing the decision-making increases their commitment to the team.

When it comes to anything, it is always important to get the input from multiple people, not just one. Of course, this goes for coaching as well. It is crucial to ask the team for their input, considering it is their team and may have more of an affect on them than it does on the coach. Position one states that sharing the decision-making increases their commitment to the team, meaning that players feel more involved when they are considered for decision-making. Throughout the readings and PowerPoint, I found it stated that players who are under a cooperative style coach are more coachable due to the fact that they have a say in decisions that are directly affecting them.  With a cooperative styled coach, new ideas are accepted and considered more than with a command stlye coach, and this is important. Ideas and specific requests by players should be taken into consideration by the coach and other teammates.

Thinking of examples and real-life situations that I can relate to, a few come across my mind. One example specifically would relate back to when I played high school soccer. We had a very tough coach who expected a lot out of us. He was a mix of the command style and the cooperative style coach. He made all of the decisions referring to games (positions, playing time) and game times, locations, etc. but we as a team were able to make decisions on what color uniforms to wear in the yearbook photo, what we wore to school on the day of a game, where we had spaghetti dinners, and even as much as what warm-up we would perform before the game. I believe this is more an example of an athlete-centered coaching style, which I found to be very enjoyable. Athlete-centered coaching gives the athletes a fair opportunity to make decisions that will directly be affecting them. My team would have felt like we got to make no decisions on our own if any of those listed above were taken away from us and we may not have enjoyed playing the game as much as we did.

Overall, I think that having a good to have a coach who is able to make the necessary decisions on their own but is still willing to ask the team players for their opinions on various subjects and give the players the opportunity to choose certain things on their own as a team. Sports become enjoyable when the decision-making process is shared among the coaches and the players when allowed. Of course, there are always situations where the coach needs to be the one to make the decision, but that does not mean they cannot ask for their team’s opinion, or consider it at least.

By: Kristen Long

As a future coach I would chose position one (1) and two(2). I believe in the command style of coaching, but I also believe in cooperative style. First off, I have been playing sports my whole life. Basketball has always been my favorite and primary sport, but I have also participated in just about any other sport. Throughout my years as an athlete I have been on teams where the coaches had control and were in demand, but I have also been on many teams where the coach asked advice from the players (cooperative style). This ended in lots of drama when coaches would ask for a player(s) opinion. I can say that there was one team where there was a cooperative style of coaching and there was no drama, but that was in AAU (travel) basketball where all of us got along (plus only 7 girls on team). I have also been on teams where the command style of coaching did not pan out so well either.

In a command style of coaching the coach has full control. Yes, I do agree players should have a little bit of a say, but only to a certain extent.That is why I am in between. “Command style appears effective – good athletic teams need organization” (Martens 1998).

The coach dictates what the team does and that’s it, no questions asked. They are also more respected and appreciated by players then a cooperative style coach. That is just my opinion, just from what I’ve witnessed over the years (k-college). As a coach you have to know or act like you know what you are doing. If you ask advice all the time from your players then they feel they should have more say in other things and they will start to question the coaching or think they are above you. In a cooperative style setting “mutual goals are clear and firmly set. Coach is receptive to new ideas and requests” (Martens, 1998).

I have had many of teammates who have done that. As a coach you want your team to believe in what you’re doing. You do not want negative set backs when players don’t buy in all the way because you show uncertainty.

For me, I want to be a coach that can teach players more knowledge about the game (basketball) and be able to use that knowledge during a game. I want to be able to set up my players for the best possible outcome to successfully win, but I need to get everyone on the same page. A lot of famous and successful coaches coach the command/cooperative style. For example, Tom Izzo (Michigan State men’s basketball), Jim Harbaugh (Michigan football), Nick Saben (Alabama football)  Bill Self (Kansans men’s basketball), Pat Summit (Tennessee women’s basketball), Geno Auriemma (Connecticut women’s basketball). These are all great and very successful coaches that use the command/cooperative style. They are well respected and get what they want out of most of their players. It is not just winning that they teach their players; they teach them how to be disciplined, work hard, mentally tough, able to take the hits (criticism), being a good person, etc. As a coach I feel that will help them not only in the sport itself, but later in life. They can take what they have learned and be able to share those values with others (family, kids, students, teammates, players, etc). There are many times where those coaches have had their players hate them, but in the end the players respect them and are thankful for the adversity the coach puts them through. I have been a player in that situation.

When you get pushed to your limits by your coach and put the hard grind in everyday it is most likely going to be successful results or progression within the team. Overall, I believe the command/cooperative style is the best style of coaching because it keeps teams together (no drama), disciplined, respecting the coach, know what is expected, and understand that life isn’t always fair but if you keep the faith and believe you can there is a possibility.


Martens, R. (1998). Successful coaching. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.



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