Coaching: A Problem Solving Approach

2nd edition, 440 pages, $43.95
ISBN 978-0-89641-475-4


Stier Problem solving 2e cover
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Coaching: A Problem Solving Approach 2nd edition was written specifically for use in undergraduate courses dealing with the preparation of athletic coaches. It is appropriate for coaches of all sports, at all levels of amateur competition. The book can also be most helpful when used in conjunction with the text, Coaching: Becoming a Successful Athletic Coach (3rd edition), also written by the author. In addition, this book is also very useful in Theory of Coaching courses.”

This is a book about problems, specifically, how to recognize problems, how to avoid them, and how to resolve them, all within a sport setting. It is also about how to survive problematic and stressful situations. Most of the problem solving strategies, tactics and techniques suggested in this book are applicable for all levels of amateur sport competition, i.e., youth sports, junior and senior high school levels, and the collegiate or university scene. It is up to the reader to apply and adapt the general concepts and principles that are presented throughout this book to one's own individual situation and circumstances.


Today, challenges and problems in sports unfortunately seemingly occur in almost every program, and almost on a daily basis. These challenges and problems can involve any number of different individuals, constituencies and groups including, but not limited to, coaches, athletic and central school administrators, athletes, parents, staff, boosters, fans, news media, and members of the community. Successfully handling of such difficulties demands not only a significant amount of time and effort on behalf of coaches but necessitates patience as well as appropriate and timely decision making.

The examples of problems and challenges presented within this book are taken from all aspects of individual and team competitive sports, both on and off the so-called practice and/or playing fields. Some problems are associated with actions (or inactions) by individuals. Some arise because of contrasting philosophies and priorities of individuals and/or groups. Other problems are team related. And still others emanate from the policies, procedures, practices, priorities and philosophy(ies) of the overall sport organization or the sponsoring entity,


The uniqueness of this book revolves around five separate but nevertheless related features or components. The first feature is the inclusion of general information relating to the process of problem solving per se as well as the tasks associated with long range and strategic planning for the prevention and resolution of problems and challenges.
Second, EIGHTY fundamental concepts or general principles are presented which speak specifically to the tasks and responsibilities generally associated with problem solving. These fundamental concepts or principles are presented in chapters one and two as Problem Solving Concepts (PSCs).

The third feature which helps make this book unique is the inclusion in chapter three of SEVENTY–THREE specific tactics and hints relating to the problem solving process. These are specific survival strategies that are associated with sound coaching decisions, actions and practices. These Survival Tactics/Hints include practical recommendations, suggestions and schemes based upon sound problem solving principles and concepts as well as the author’s extensive experience as a coach on the junior high, high school and college/university levels. These survival tactics and hints can also frequently provide appropriate and timely guidance, counsel, cautions, and admonishments for the practitioner in terms of decision making and specific actions that should or should not be taken. All of these three unique features are presented within Section I.

The fourth distinctive feature of this book is the inclusion of ninety-six case studies (chapters five through ten). Each case study is based upon one or more specific problems or challenges prevalent in today's amateur sport world. The fifth and final special feature is the inclusion of questions and discussion questions at the end of each case. These series of questions, many of which are unique for each case study, are presented in an effort to assist readers in assessing the specifics of each case and evaluating various courses of action (different scenarios) in light of the circumstances and situations presented. Answering these questions can also aid the reader in planning and creating an individual Strategic Action Plan (SAP) for each of the case studies.



  • Chapter One: Concepts and Principles of Problem Solving

  • Chapter Two: The Process and Tasks of Problem Solving

  • Chapter Three: Problem Solving Tactics and Survival Strategies


  • Chapter Four: The Use of Case Studies in Problem Solving

  • Chapter Five: Case Studies Involving Athletic Coaches
    Case # 1 The Sneaky Assistant Coach
    Case # 2 The Careless Coach
    Case # 3 The Newly Appointed Football Coach
    Case # 4 The Sneaky Job Applicant
    Case # 5 The Very Poor Loser
    Case # 6 Being An Assistant Too Long
    Case # 7 The Role Conflict
    Case # 8 The Overly Optimistic Procrastinator
    Case # 9 The Coach Being Taken Advantage Of
    Case # 10 The Bad Example
    Case # 11 The Coach Who Takes an Impossible Job
    Case # 12 The Coach Making Appropriate Practice/Game Decisions
    Case # 13 An Effort to Check on the Academic Progress of Athletes
    Case # 14 The Underdog Coach with the Potential Mentor
    Case # 15 Pay to Play Quandary
    Case # 16 Pass to Play Dilemma

  • Chapter Six: Case Studies Involving Athletes
    Case # 17 The Three Athletic Recruits
    Case # 18 The Disobedient Football Player
    Case # 19 The Unmotivated Would-be Athlete
    Case # 20 The Complaining Athletes
    Case # 21 The Misbehaving Students
    Case # 22 The Case of the Bad-tempered Athletes
    Case # 23 Team Violence
    Case # 24 The Prima Donna Athlete
    Case # 25 The Carrot and Stick Approach to Motivation
    Case # 26 Selecting Captains
    Case # 27 Whether Or Not to Start Seniors
    Case # 28 Promoting A Potential College Recruit
    Case # 29 Offensive Trash Talk
    Case # 30 Dealing with Student-Athletes Doing Poorly in the Classroom
    Case # 31 Unmotivated Students Trying Out for the Team
    Case # 32 The Two O’Clock Wonder

  • Chapter Seven: Case Studies Involving Other Individuals
    Case # 33 The Too Active Booster Club
    Case # 34 The Over Involved Booster
    Case # 35 The Soccer Publicist and Promoter
    Case # 36 The News Media Controversy
    Case # 37 The Conflict with the Athletic Trainer
    Case # 38 Rumors within the Faculty Lounge
    Case # 39 The Delayed Lawsuit by Parents
    Case # 40 Communicating with Parents and Boosters
    Case # 41 Poor Relationship with the Custodian
    Case # 42 The Public Disagreement with One’s Boss
    Case # 43 Conflict with the English Teacher
    Case # 44 “Why Isn’t My Daughter Playing More?”
    Case # 45 Using Student Managers and Statisticians
    Case # 46 Working with an Administrator Who Doesn’t Understand Athletics
    Case # 47 Obtaining Volunteers to Help with the Team
    Case # 48 Training and Motivating statisticians and Manager

  • Chapter Eight: Case Studies Involving Policies, Practices, Procedures, Priorities and Philosophies
    Case # 49 The Questionable Equipment Purchases
    Case # 50 The Junior Varsity Football Tryout
    Case # 51 The Under-funded Sport Program
    Case # 52 Specialization versus Generalization
    Case # 53 The Questionable Team Selection
    Case # 54 The Need for A Student-Athlete Dress Code
    Case # 55 The Unsuitable Punishment
    Case # 56 The Double Standard for Women
    Case # 57 The Need to Recruit at the High School Level
    Case # 58 Establishing Team Rules
    Case # 59 The Assistant Coach Jumping the Chain of Command
    Case # 60 Having Preconditions for Tryouts
    Case # 61 The Off-Season Weight Program
    Case # 62 The Coach’s Evaluation
    Case # 63 The Code of Conduct
    Case # 64 Dealing with Determining Criteria for Awards for Athletes

  • Chapter Nine: Case Studies Involving Controversial Issues
    Case # 65 The Questionable Ethics of the Head Coach
    Case # 66 The Hidden Drug Problem
    Case # 67 The Righteous Complainer
    Case # 68 The Suspected Drug Abuse
    Case # 69 The Case of the Superintendent’s Daughter
    Case # 70 Cross Gender Coaching
    Case # 71 The Accidental Injury
    Case # 72 The Diet Disorder
    Case # 73 The 8th Grader Being Moved to the Varsity
    Case # 74 The Sexually Harassed
    Case # 75 The Overly-friendly Coach
    Case # 76 The Coach Teaching Unethical Tactics
    Case # 77 Title IX Violations
    Case # 78 Hazing on the Ice Hockey Team
    Case # 79 Specialization versus Generalization of Athletes
    Case # 80 Making Substitutes in Contests

  • Chapter Ten: Case Studies Involving Special Situations
    Case # 81 The Inappropriate Use of the WWW by Athletes
    Case # 82 The Case of the unwanted Cheerleaders
    Case # 83 The Case of the Athletic/Coaching Handbook(s) for the “Team”
    Case # 84 The Case of Resolving the Dilemma about Awards Banquets
    Case # 85 The Case of Dealing with College Recruiters and the Pressure of College Recruitment
    Case # 86 Using Technology Intelligently
    Case # 87 Inventory Control
    Case # 88 Belonging to Professional Organizations
    Case # 89 Inadequate Crowd Control
    Case # 90 Honoring Former Athletes
    Case # 91 Scouting Plans
    Case # 92 Developing Practice Plans
    Case # 93 Developing and Maintaining a Web Page for One’s Sport
    Case # 94 The use of Appropriate Conditioning Methods
    Case # 95 The Case of the Need for Nutritional Education for Athletes
    Case # 96 Maintaining Adequate Health and Medical Reports

  • Appendix A: Suggested Readings—Journals and Magazines

  • Photo Credits

  • Index

See Coaching: Becoming a Successful Athletic Coach 3rd by William F. Stier, Jr.


Dr. William F. Stier, Jr. is the graduate coordinator of Athletic Administration and directs the coaching certification program and the sports management concentration at the State University of New York at Brockport. He received his Ed.D. from the University of South Dakota and began his coaching career in the junior high schools. On the high school level he has coached cross country, baseball, track and field, and basketball and served as athletic director. At the college level, he coached basketball as well as assumed positions of athletic director and chairperson of Health, Physical Education and Recration in both public and private institutions of higher education. Dr. Stier serves on editorial boards for several professional journals as well as editor for the International Journal of Sport Management. He is also currently listed in the marquis Who's Who in American Education and has received numerous honors and awards.