The Craft of Coaching with Joe Friel logo

2 // The How and Why of Coaching

A USA Cycling mountain biking coach works with a Team USA athlete cyclist at the 2018 UCI MTB World Championships in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
Courtesy USA Cycling

Coaches often focus on methodology over philosophy. Your own path to coaching shapes both, and Joe Friel shows why it matters.

Known as one of the greatest coaches of all time, swimming coach Doc Counsilman found sport to be a lifeline, thanks to a YMCA coach who took the time to mentor him. Counsilman, who once struggled academically, went on to become a scientist and lifelong student of the sport.

Illustrated headshot of James "Doc" Counsilman

Profiles in Coaching: James “Doc” Counsilman

Joe Friel details the life and career of one of the most influential coaches in history, someone who redefined performance through science and innovation.

Who or what inspired you to become a coach? Identify the factors and/or people that influenced your life and career trajectory and how that plays out in your work with athletes.

cycling coach encourages a racer at a track cycling race

Why Do You Coach?

By understanding the people and events that shape you as a coach, you will be more aware of who you influence and how.

The job of a coach goes well beyond making a plan for athletic progression and performance. How that job gets done asks a lot of a coach. It’s often the other roles that a coach has an opportunity to fill that make a real difference in the athlete’s pursuit of performance.

coach and youth basketball team

Own Your Role: Coaches Are Mentors, Teachers, and Role Models

Joe Friel explores the dynamics of the athlete-coach relationship and shows why every coach needs to be a teacher, role model, and teammate.

The following workshop helps coaches see the “forest for the trees” when it comes to their coaching. Joe provides an overview of different coaching styles, methodologies, and philosophies, taking a look at some well-known coaches in both traditional sports and endurance sports, and then inviting coaches to identify and reflect on their own style, methodology, and philosophy.

Methodology and Philosophy

Coaching Philosophy vs. Methodology

Joe Friel leads a discussion among prominent coaches on the various coaching philosophies, methodologies, and styles.

Take a minute to reflect on the how and why of your own coaching program. Would your athletes describe it similarly? By putting some time and intention into identifying your own methodology and philosophy, you can build a more successful coaching program. Joe helps you through this valuable exercise in the article below.

roundtable discussion on philosophy versus methodology

Communicating Your Philosophy and Methodology

Identifying and explaining how you work with athletes is critical to growing your coaching business.

Even once coaches identify their philosophy and methodology, there will be situations that arise where there’s not a clear path forward. Approaching these situations with an open mind and a willingness to learn paves the way for your evolution as a coach, opening up new possibilities for your athletes and your coaching program.

The Craft of Coaching Adapting Your Approach to the Athlete

Case Study: Adapting Your Approach to the Athlete

Joe Friel describes a time when his coaching method and philosophy were put to the test—and how he recognized the challenge and refined his approach.

It’s helpful to turn the tables and consider coaching from the athlete’s perspective. This is made easier when it’s not your athlete. The following interview with pro triathlete Joe Gambles illustrates the impact a coach can have on athletic progression, performance, and enjoyment of the sport.

One Athlete, Many Coaches

A Pro Athlete’s Perspective on Coaching Style and Athletic Progression

Pro triathlete Joe Gambles reflects on the coaches he worked with over his athletic career, running the full gamut of styles, methodologies, and philosophies.