This is an update to an article original published in 2013]
I’ve always been intrigue by the things we do when we coach. And also by the wealth of things a coach is NOT doing when coaching. For example,
when in the act of coaching, the coach is:
- NOT spending time with the family
- NOT working out
- NOT doing the laundry, checking the car oil, doing other household chores
- NOT doing the other job. NOT throwing the ball for the dog. NOT petting the cat
“Sure, I am busy. I’m focusing. I’m working.”
Yep, you busy coaching. But the sneaky thing about coaching, is that coaches often pay a little heavier price for what they have chosen to do.
The simple buckets of life
Let’s go simple. Imagine you have buckets in your life.
As soon as you wake up you start dipping stuff from a bucket.
- You make breakfast, you take from your food bucket.
- Put gas in the car, draw from the money bucket.
- Stop for two donuts, dip from the health bucket.
I like the bucket concept because it helps explain the price we pay to coach.
When you draw from a bucket, and there is something to put back into the bucket to balance what you took out — then things are good. The withdrawal (what you took out) is balanced by a deposit (what was put back in). You take $30 out of the money bucket for gas, and on payday you put money back into the bucket.
Here’s where it often doesn’t work for coaches.
The price we pay to coach
In days-gone-by they were big buckets that an organization might have for a coach to draw from. You bought a new whistle (a money-bucket withdrawal) and it was balanced when you were reimbursed from the team’s budget (a deposit). You had an extended road trip (a family-bucket withdrawal) and then you had a few days off to recover (a deposit).
So often today, because of budget cuts, limited resources, overloaded schedules, coaches often have to use their own personal buckets. The price we pay to coach comes into play when we dip out of a bucket and there is nothing to put back in.
You drive 30 minutes to practice each day and there is NO budget to get reimbursed for mileage. The price you pay, in this case, is the cost of gas and the miles on your car.
Or you are up till 3am watching films, running practice at 7am, with 3 hours sleep, no breakfast, slurpping caffeine. You are pouring out of the health and family buckets. Can’t you just see them drying up?
Coaches are often expense-blind
Often we coaches get so engaged/stoked/mesmerized by coaching that we become expense-blind.
We get sucked in by the excitement, the giving back, the helping of those that need help that we ignore our buckets going dry. You can see that in so many coaches today.
Overweight. High-stressed. Sick, rundown, struggling. Being abused by crowds—yelled at, cursed at, physically attacked. Lonely. Moody.
They’ve paid a price to coach a sport, sometimes a heavy, very hefty price.
And then they crash when their bucket dries up.
Can you pay the price without the crash
What can you do? If you want to stay in coaching any length of time, and I’ve written about professional sustainability before, you need to figure out your bucket-withdrawals you are paying to coach and if they are being offset by an bucket-deposits. (And I’m not just talking money here, Coach.)
That small bit of information is very powerful. It can separate you from your peers, empower your coaching, make you a much more pleasant person to be around.
Most importantly, knowing if your buckets are balanced can improve your longevity as a coach.
Here’s a plan that might help:
Step 1. Record your coaching bucket-withdrawals
Record, in any format that works for you, all of your bucket-withdrawals. Take your time, get it correct—dig deep.
Then write down your bucket-deposits—what resources you can use to put back into those buckets.
Step 2. Dig Deep
If you’re struggling to identify your withdraws just sit quietly for a few moments and flash back to things that generated stress in your coaching life. For instance, on the way home from practice were you stressed because you were missing time with your own kids?
That’s and expense. Put it down.
Dig. Dig. Dig.
Step 3. Balancing things
Look at your withdrawals. Are they balanced by deposits? If they are — great. You Coach, are doing a good job! Pat on the back for you.
But if things aren’t balanced then there is trouble looming ahead. In that case, I have two questions for you:
1) Can you increase your deposits? If not, why not? Seriously, why not? For instance, if you are missing time with your own kids is there a way for them to come with you during a practice? Just a thought.
2) Can you reduce your withdrawals? I did this a few years ago…we used to practice from 6am to 8:30am every morning. When I realized the price I was paying to do that (crushing my family) we moved practice to 4:o0 to 6:30 pm. Things became much better.
A word of caution, though, if you identify an issue, as I did with practice times, and try to make a change, be ready for resistance. When I introduced our change to practice times there was resistance to make that change, but no one could really tell me exactly why we should not change.
So you know, “That’s the way we have always done things'” is no reason to keep doing things that way. In fact, it is probably a good reason NOT to keep things the same.
You pay a price to do anything. The price we pay to coach our sport sometimes can be very significant and can take a heavy toll.
When a bucket runs dry a coach can suffer.
Be thoughtful of what’s happening with your buckets and you might be able to improve your coaching experience, be a better coach, and keep coaching longer.