How Coaching Philosophy Drives Coaching Action: A Case Study of Renowned Wrestling Coach J Robinson

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Daniel Gould Michigan State University

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Scott Pierce Illinois State University

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Ian Cowburn Leeds Beckett University

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Andrew Driska Michigan State University

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This case study examined the coaching philosophy of J Robinson, one of the most respected and successful NCAA wrestling coaches in the United States, and the founder of J Robison Intensive Wrestling Camps. Research has that shown that his camps foster short and long term psychological development in its youth participants (Driska et al., in press; Pierce, et al., 2016). He has established a well-delineated system for developing psychological skills in young athletes. The researchers were therefore interested in understanding the link between his coaching philosophy and coaching behavior, and in identifying factors that have influenced the development of this coaching philosophy over his lifetime. Using a case study approach, in-depth interviews at several points in time with Robinson were conducted. These were supplemented with interviews with camp staff and observations of the camp and Robinson’s coaching. Results revealed that Robinson had a clearly defined philosophy, was very intentional in developing mental skills, and had clearly thought out rationales that guided his coaching actions. The coaching philosophy and approach to developing psychological skills in youth evolved over 35 years of implementing these camps and from Robinson’s own life experiences. Implications for studying coach development and delivering coaching education are provided.

Daniel Gould is a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and director of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University. He has over 200 scholarly publications, has made over 1000 coaching clinic presentations and has been invited to speak in over 30 countries. He has been a consultant for many sport organizations and heavily involved in the development of coaching education programs.

Scott Pierce is an assistant professor at the School of Kinesiology and Recreation at Illinois State University. His research interests focus on the development of psychological skills for sport performance and on the development and transfer of life skills from sport. He is also involved in the development and implementation education programs that aim to effectively communicate this scientific knowledge to coaches and athletes.

Ian Cowburn is a senior lecturer in sport coaching at Leeds Beckett University. His research interests focus on the development of life-skills through sport, parental involvement in sport, and coach effectiveness and development. Bringing these themes together, he is also interested in how research findings can be used practically to enhance education and development of coaches, the experiences of youth athletes, and athletic performance.

Andy Driska is an assistant professor at the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports in the Michigan State University Department of Kinesiology. His specialty has been researching and conducting coach education and development programs, specifically online coach education programs. He also researches how sport participation develops mental toughness and psychological skills. He is a former coach of swimming and water polo.

Address author correspondence to Daniel Gould at drgould@msu.edu.
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