“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” — Proverbs 16:3
The first time I was asked, “What is your coaching philosophy?” I had trouble answering the simple question, even though I had been coaching for years. I could easily point you to the philosophy of expert coaches whom I admired; however, I did not have many original thoughts on the matter.
This led me to create a 12-page document explaining why I coach. I put a great deal of thought and effort into the assignment, and I was so excited to show it to one of my mentors in the field. He quickly explained to me that my philosophy was too complex and would likely be put into a drawer and forgotten by parents and student-athletes, rather than implemented into daily practice. I knew I had work to do.
Then one day, I came across a piece of paper from a football coach stating his team would be successful if they bought into P.A.I.N. — Persistence, Accountability, Integrity and Never Quit. I liked this idea but wanted something more positive. I brainstormed about the traits that were most important to me and thought of my favorite coaches whom I had studied. In my original coaching philosophy, I identified 25 traits. However, I really liked how P.A.I.N. had only four characteristics. Believing that less is more, I went to work on minimizing.
The most important quality to me was Love, the basis of all human relationships and what intrinsically motivates people. Then I thought of Coach John Wooden’s teachings. I wanted to teach the players under my supervision the importance of the process and how to focus on what they can control, their Effort and their positive Attitude. Finally, the voices of Coach Lou Holtz and Vince Lombardi kept whispering “discipline” in my head. I believe Discipline to be the fuel of achievement.
I knew at that point I had established my four most important principles, and the L.E.A.D. philosophy was born.
— R. Levi Nelson, Field High School (Mogadore, Ohio) head football coach
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