Part of belonging to this group of freaks called coaches, is that we sometimes trade notes. Recently, one conversation I had with a group of coaches centered around the stress or coaching, and the lack of FUN.
Coaching should be fun — plain and simple.
Fun is exactly why most coaches coach. Of the 5 million or so coaches in the US many are not paid, or are compensated at a level that covers their expenses. So, again, why do they coach?
For the fun.
Yet . . . a HUGE number of coaches struggle to find fun. Some never find it.
I get that because I’ve been to that place and I’ve got a T-shirt to prove it.
The beast is in the details
I hate it when I hear a statement like “coaches should have fun,” even when I make it.
It’s akin to saying all “chocolate cheesecake should taste good.” Come on, we know that ain’t true. I’ve had chocolate cheesecake that didn’t taste good.
There is a trick to making dessert that tastes good. You need three keys things: ingredients, a recipe, and effort to put them all together just right.
The exact same can be said about finding fun while coaching a sport — you need ingredients, a recipe, and the effort to mix things correctly.
And right there is why so many coaches struggle to find fun — or never find it at all.
Most of us don’t have the effort, the recipe, or the ingredients to make it happen.
The ingredients of fun for coaches
(Warning — I’m going to take some writer’s license here — simplifying things for the sake of getting to the point faster.)
You need to have fun coaching? Because when you do you engage, and engaged coaches do a better job, get better results, have a much greater positive impact.
And for a coach to have fun these four critical ingredients come into play:
- The resources of the coach
- The skills of the coach
- The demands on the coach
- The challenges the coach faces
Each, in the right balance, is critical to a good (fun) outcome.
It’s all a balancing act
Brought together in the correct proportions, those four ingredients lead to fun. This sketch might help.
See the orange zone in the middle? That’s where a coach will find fun. In that zone the challenges are balanced by the skills and the demands are balanced by the resources.
Once things are out of balance a coach ventures into the far ends. That’s where bad things happen. For instance, when the skills of a coach far outweighs challenges upon the coach, she gets bored. The other way around and she experiences anxiety.
How about a moment on each of those components.
The challenges can be great (and varied)
The challenges of coaching be great.
Unfortunately, often a coach won’t even know what the challenges are until they smack him in the face. So often a coach will get blindsided by challenges not possibly foreseen. Such as a bus catching on fire, a meningitis outbreak, a cheating scandal at school, hyper-engaged parents, mismanagement of funds, a hurricane or tornado.
The demands turn enormous
Straight up — demands on a coach, regardless of the level of coaching, can be enormous.
For instance, a friend coached his team to an Olympic gold medal and within minutes of him winning the expectations were to win another gold medal in four years.
And pity another friend, a youth soccer coach, who had a dad armed with a stop-watch on the sidelines at each game, timing the amount of time his son played, and compared that to the other players on the team.
Parents demand one thing, athletes demand another, administrators want this, the community wants that, the coach expects this, her significant other expects that.
Resources are critical
We don’t really need to dwell on this part, do we?
No resources, and you are sunk. The uniforms are a resource. So is your budget (stop laughing). Your tools. Your brain. Your playing surface. Resources are the bread-and-butter of what we coaches do. (Oh, wait, maybe they are the cheesecake of what we do.)
Hm . . . how about they are critical to what we do.
But skills make it happen
Skills are what make it happen for coaches.
I know that’s bad grammar. But it is the truth.
Skills can help balance out demands and skills, in conjunction with resources are a pretty potent combination. But the insidious part of coaching is that you need to be skilled at SO MANY THINGS.
- public relations
- and dozens upon dozens of other things
So what can I do?
Listen, instead of me complaining away here (and you doing the same) let me present you with a few suggestions on how you can find more fun and get yourself into that orange zone.
1) Print the graph above. Cut it out. Hang it up. Have it as a reminder of the balance you need to find. When things get un-fun (out of balance), figure out how you can move the needle back to the center.
2) Layout as many of the demands upon you as possible and cover the whole spectrum. From spouse or significant other, to your social life, to the boss, to the community, to the alums. Write them all down. Just really cover the whole spectrum.
3) Record all of the resources available to you. Sometimes we don’t know what we have until we do an inventory like this. Make a list and cover things such as equipment and donors and alumni. Come on. Think coach, think.
4) Do the same listing with your skills and then with the challenges that you expect. Don’t-under-estimate-the-challenges that might come up. For example, travel a lot in vans? Expect the challenges of breakdowns, flat tires, tolls, tickets, etc.
5) Compare and contrast the lists you just made. Can you balance the demands using your skills? If not, you are going to be hard pressed to have fun. Can the challenges be balanced with your resources. Oh, I hope so.
What if there is no balance in those items listed above? Try increasing your skills and resources or decreasing the demands or challenges. If neither of those work, then turn toward your mentor.
Off you go to greatness
You can be good at coaching and have fun. May coaches have figured it out, but there are still many who struggle. Try your best with the suggestions here. If you can’t find fun, don’t complain. No whining. Just keep trying, connect with your giant, and some cheesecake might help.