Coach Brad · Coaching · Development · Education of a Coach · Leadership · Success

Keep Coaches in the Game

“Bobby seems melancholy, not his usual hail-fellow cynical jokester. His team just lost, and played soft, and he worries that yelling at the players will make them turn on each other. He’s had a lot of success here but always worries about getting fired. The stress eats at him. He finishes his one beer and leaves. No late night for him. His family is waiting at home. He never made it to the top and he’ll never take a team to the Final Four, but he has a yellow brick house on a corner three blocks from his office, and he comes home many afternoons to see his kids after school. He walks to work. His beautiful wife is not an ex. Bobby is one of the lucky few. He’s a good man, and would be judged an enormous success in every single profession except the one he chose.”

Probable Scenario: The U10 soccer game was supposed to start at 2:00 on Saturday but the other team did not show up until 2:30. Your wife and family plan to meet you at the previously scheduled time of 3:30 at a friends barbecue. The game has now ended at 3:35 and two players have not been picked up. It is 3:55 before they are picked up and you still have a 25 minute drive to the barbecue. This is the third week this season that the unexpected has happened as far as timing of games and family activities. As you arrive to the barbecue over an hour late, your wife asks, “What do you care more about – coaching or us?”

Over the course of 17 years of coaching youth sports between high school, college, and club, one of my greatest realizations about coaching is “There’s no clock, no calendar, and no vacation in this business.” Finding a balance between coaching and the rest of your life is extremely difficult as feelings of wanting to be effective at both continually present themselves. How can coaches continue to do what they love to do professionally and have a successful off field relationship?

Coaches must learn to balance their coaching life and their family life. The on field activities during training and games is what most coaches love and why they entered into the profession. The items that end up taking up unlimited amounts of time can be recruiting, addressing off field issues with the players, parental concerns, email, scouting, setting up schedules, budget organization, working with assistant coaches, and countless other tasks that present themselves during a work day. Even when prepared, it seems a new problem that must be immediately taken care of presents itself on a daily basis.

Coaches have a passion for their sport. When it is your passion, how do you stop thinking about creating the next training activity, the next game, player issues, recruiting, team development, mentoring opportunities or other topics that need to be addressed for team success in order to be “in the moment” with your significant other and family? As a coach we often feel we are on a never ending hamster wheel of job related obligations. Will talking to a recruit for an extra 30 minutes, sending four extra emails, or administering an extra individual session as opposed to delegating have a greater impact on your job success or significant other/family happiness? When is enough actually enough?

1606993_10153571091359922_8925928036195548309_nIts a difficult balance to strike but one I will be working to create as I will be marrying Courtney Henderson on Saturday, June 6th. I love her, Avery, and Owen so much and want to be involved in all aspects of our family. Over the course of the last year, I realized how important it is to have an appropriate balance between coaching life and family life and I love Courtney more and more each day for her patience in working with me on creating this delicate balance.

Can we define success for coaches as being able to balance our coaching responsibilities with off field life. I think it is a goal that we must be focused upon in order to be deemed a success as a person. And at the end of the day, is that not what we are all attempting to create as coaches…people that can be a success living in society…

I think it is time for coaches to take some of our own advice and learn how to live a balanced life. How do you balance your life between family and job responsibilities. Please leave a reply so we can all gain and share knowledge.

Empowering Athletes, Families, Coaches, and Organizations to Create Opportunities for Lifetime Success,

Coach Brad

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12 thoughts on “Keep Coaches in the Game

  1. This post hit home as I have tried to be/manage everything with my women’s soccer club despite my non-soccer life getting in the way (illnesses, deaths, my “day job”) and the stresses of not being as successful on all fronts as I feel I need to be. Because of all that, I am taking a sabbatical from the day-to-day operation/management of the club this fall (running from mid-August through the end of October). The full story can be found here: https://backseatgaffer.wordpress.com/2015/06/24/hitting-a-wall/

    1. What a tough but thoughtful decision. We all want to do it all, but those around us end up paying the price. Thanks so much for sharing your story and I look forward to reading your blog. Have a great day!!!

  2. I like this post and it is a reality across all coaches and all sports . Seldom do you hear the words passion and balance in the same sentence. This post calls out the importance of it. What I like most is that success is not defined in the number of championships but in lasting positive relationships.

  3. My husband showed me this article because he says it’s his life. Which is true. I am constantly at games (we don’t have kids) just to “spend” time with him on the weekends. It is difficult to find that balance and is a constant work in progress. We’ve been married for three years and I’ve had to learn throughout these past few years that soccer is very important to my husband. I may never understand that love and passion but i try to support him. Thank you for sharing your story!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Over numerous years of coaching and spending weekends away, I have realized how important finding a balance between activity and family can be for the success of all. Best of luck with your family! I know the balance you find will create a positive lifestyle.

  4. SUSAN 🙂

    Life is about change. One thing is for sure, trying to manage the changes is an art. It takes a few strokes at times, while other times it takes what feels like millions to finally get the masterpiece. But then you realize it is not exactly what you wanted, so you begin to try again.
    Remember the beauty and success of your life’s artwork is an amazing journey! ENJOY!
    Keep the faith and God will help you find the balance!

  5. I am thankful for you “Coach Brad” :)… Glad that you are in love with us enough to have this feeling of wanting to find a balance. While I am not the wife that feels that you “love coaching more than us”, I do struggle with that balance of bringing work into every aspect of our lives and the time struggle. I am thankful that you recognize the challenges and we are able to work through this together. One of the many reasons that I love you so much is your ALWAYS working to improve and better yourself and “us” :). So excited to marry you next Saturday and work on this together!

    Chase- I love what you said about your transition, I am sure that is much appreciated by Courtney :)!!!

    1. I love you so much Courtney. What a great first two weeks of marriage we have already have. I look forward to building an amazing life with you, Avery, and Owen!!!

  6. Great post Brad! This article really hit home for me as I just became a father, and now I’m struggling to find the balance between work and home life. I have found that mentally preparing myself to be fully engaged in “at-home activities” on my way home helps me make the transition from work to home and sets me up for a lot of success with my wife and kids. But when I’m home, I’m home. Work stays at work, and that is difficult to do.

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