Coach Brad · Coaching · Development · Education · Leadership · Success · Youth Sports

The Coaching-Life Balance – From Conflict to Harmony

Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management.  Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices.

  • Betsy Jacobson – Business Consultant

Finding a balance between professional career and personal responsibilities is vital to creating success across many areas of life. While a significant focus of coaching is relationship building with athletes, families, other coaches, donors, and possible sponsors; coaches must also prioritize the relationship with their significant other, family and friends. Success means that the coach has created harmony between professional and personal lives.

Balancing life activities with working hard is a complicated situation…Working 80 to 100 hours a week over time guarantees a divorce and losing your family while not getting your work done means going out of business or losing your job. As Dave Ramsey discusses on the EntreLeadership Podcast #110, some weeks you will have to put in extra work to complete important projects while other weeks that are slower you let your foot off the gas and feel relief. Making the most of the opportunities you have to spend with friends, family, and your significant other provide a meaningful life balance.

Dave states you want to provide for your family by being excellent and diligent but you also don’t want to work so much that you damage your family over an extended period of time. Within the process of creating life balance, it seems multiple aspects contribute to professional and personal success. Betsy Jacobson suggests quite succinctly that finding balance means making choices and enjoying those choices. If that choice works for your situation, you have achieved balance in your life. Peace of mind in the decision made will provide personal satisfaction.

Opinions and thoughts vary greatly on the subject of finding a work-life balance and I have decided to include opinions of two other people I greatly respect within this post to further discuss and provide perspective on creating a life balance.

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Owen, Avery, Brad & Courtney

First, my wife Courtney Nein has provided me with an incredible education in how couples can work together to create an athletic coaching and life balance. We have our ups and downs but overall we have worked together over the last 2 years to find a solution for creating a balance between work and life that makes our family happy. Courtney provides passionate ideas and thoughts about the coaching/life balance over the course of the next few paragraphs.

I met Brad when I was a full time teacher and he was coaching soccer 6+ days a week. I was a single mother of 2 incredible kids that had no father figure in their lives. It was very difficult for me to enter into a relationship with Brad’s schedule coaching while being extra protective of my kiddos. While I was very much in love with Brad, it was a very difficult adjustment for me to come into.  Here I had this man of my dreams, and the father to my children that I always wanted, but he wasn’t actually around a lot. I worked days and he worked afternoons/evenings and weekends so we were like ships passing in the night. The kids were both under 5 at the time and in bed before Brad was able to be around most days. It was difficult for me to understand how this was better than being alone. Because we loved each other we worked together to figure out a way that would work for all of us.

One of the most important things and most difficult challenges has been to be effective in our communication. Efficient use of time is very important to me, as I would guess many women, and communication about timing is vital. We are still not pro’s on this but we have worked hard to make it work. Here are some things that I think that all men should take into consideration:

  • Say you will be later/longer than you anticipate…. if you come home early you will have a happy woman.
  • If something comes up or plans change start out by acknowledging it. Then if you can make her a part of the decision making process and follow up with something that shows you realize that this affects her and you care about her feelings. An example follows: “Honey, I just heard from the Director of Coaching that we have an additional training session and I have been asked to be a part of it. I know this is not ideal but I think that it is something that I should be present for. Since this is a time that we had counted on as family time I wondered if I could make it up to you? I saw that there is a fall festival Saturday that maybe we could go to?” Also following up with something thankful about her understanding would be nice.  
  • When you are with your partner BE PRESENT. You are a coach which means that you likely think, dream, and breathe the sport that you coach… if you want your partner to remain your partner and have interest in you, you probably need to at least act like you care about something else during the time you spend together. It is very likely that your partner doesn’t share that same passion that you do (hard to imagine I know) and the faster you realize that and develop passions together the better.  
  • Compromise- No one loves to give up things that they love or enjoy. That just isn’t what comes naturally. Unfortunately and fortunately in a relationship that is a MUST. You will both need to sacrifice things that you feel are important. Your sport and your teams have likely been all that has consumed you previously but your partner is your team now. If you want it to work out, you need to treat her/him as a priority and make sure that you both are able to see what is important to each other.  
  • Do something each day to show your partner that you cherish them.  This has nothing to do with coaching actually and is just good advice ;)!

Respecting each other and yourself within the relationship and that the person you love may not have the same level of interest as you are two significant ideas to comprehend. 

Amazing words from the love of my life…She has worked so hard on our relationship and I am truly honored each day to tell people how thoughtful and caring she is and that I am the lucky guy that was able to marry her.  We continue to work each day together to create the married life I used to only dream about.

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Stefan King

Next, my friend and colleague Stefan King who is the Girls’ Technical Director for FC Peoria Soccer Club will give a practical opinion from the view of a soccer coach and club leader. I first met Stefan earlier this year as he is involved in the NSCAA 30 Under 30 program. His current high level of leadership and ability to appreciate various perspectives makes him the ideal individual to write about the topic of athletic coaching and life balance.

Throughout my whole coaching career, I have always had the luxury of putting myself first. I never had to report to anyone at home and I was always able to prioritize anything soccer. I never had to worry about upsetting anyone by coming home too late from a session or not calling to say I was going to be late because of a conflict. Although I have had many girlfriends during this time period, they have always been long distance relationships, and therefore I never had to physically commit to being there for my partner. Fast forward to the present day, and my life has changed dramatically. My girlfriend has moved to the United States and we are also expecting our first child together. In order to adapt to these life changes, I have been trying to find a balance between soccer and family.

Prior to my girlfriend’s arrival, the time in which I came home was never a consideration. I would spend hours at the fields conducting practice and doing work in the office. When I was finished with those duties, I would spend even more time chatting with fellow coaches hanging around the facility. Now, I am trying to be more cognizant of the time, so that I get home at a more respectable hour to spend time with her and facilitate her needs.

Another adaptation I have had to make in my cohabitation, is recognizing that although I personally love everything soccer, my girlfriend Dianne just unfortunately doesn’t have the same passion for the game as I do. I find myself at times blabbing on and on to her about the new rule changes and how kids can’t practice headers, and I must admit she does a good pretending she cares, but deep down I know she wishes I would talk about something else. So I have been trying to keep the soccer talk to a minimum, and investing more time in learning about how her day has been, and whats new in her life.

Finally, finding time totally away from soccer has been my biggest challenge thus far. I am normally reading a soccer magazine, looking at new videos or just watching the game. Now I really want to find time totally away from the game to dedicate myself to my loved ones and cater to their needs. I actually enjoy doing other things other than soccer, soccer, soccer. When I find myself coming back from that time away, I feel even more energized, and thankful for the rest and relaxation.

Soccer has always been a major part of my life, and has awarded me a myriad of opportunities I could not have even imagined without the game. However, living the single life where the world revolves around you can only last for so long. I now realize the importance of making sure the people I love get the same attention I give to the game, and I also make sure they feel important. Soccer will forever hold a special place in my heart, but now it will have to share with a few more important things such as family.

Stefan, Thank you for sharing your perspective of how you have adapted to create a happy relationship with Dianne. Thoughtful concepts to bring to your loving relationship.

Being a success at coaching while being present, available, and in the moment for your family is very complicated.  After chatting about the topic and reading the passages from Courtney and Stefan, it seems to me that COMMUNICATION plays the significant factor in successfully living a happy and balanced life. Harmony between professional career and personal life create the needed balance to continually be at your best and happy within both worlds.

I would love to hear your story about your own personal coaching-life balance. Successful or not, we will all grow through sharing.

We Empower athletes, families, coaches, and organizations to create opportunities for lifetime success,

Coach Brad

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CLICK HERE to learn our WHY…

Ramsey, D. (2015, August 31). The EntreLeadership Podcast #110: Dan Miller – How to live a life of meaning [Audio podcast].

6 thoughts on “The Coaching-Life Balance – From Conflict to Harmony

  1. Yeah!!! True talk….Time management allows you to fully maximize the 24 hours you got in a day…which in turn influences your choices and shapes your future.

  2. Brad, Good posting…again…and I’ll be interested how many responses you get and what they have to say. I also feel there are three *very *important words missing to go along with *Communication* (which is the vehicle we utilize to express these feelings): *Love, Trust and Respect*.

    As in many of your posts, these ideas and suggestions are valid for not only coaches, but *for everyone *needing this balance of business vs. family, or work vs. play. The potential for problems arises when work becomes play for *either* spouse. Now, what one considers work, the other considers play. This is where Love, Trust and Respect can help with the balancing act. Andy Stanley professes work for eight hrs. a day, then eight hours of family time*, then eight hours of sleep. He points out that more time in one of these will negatively effect effect one of the others in this balancing act.

    *Don’t forget time for you and your spouse…alone!…this is part of family time. Date night combines all *four words…*

    Finally, I can’t wait to follow Stefan and Dianne as they throw a newborn in the balancing act. I’m sure they will do fine, but they’re in for a great ride 😂

    Blue skies to you and Courtney, Madeline

    1. Madeline, Your words ring incredibly true…the importance of love, trust, and respect as the vehicles for communication provide the essence of a happy and successful relationship. Thank you for sharing!!!

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