I was tapping my fingers. I’d been waiting in the outer office for 30 minutes. Now my foot was wiggling. The secretary watched me as I squirmed. Finally she announced, “The Athletic Director will see you now.”
Why did the AD want to see me?
It turns out for a good reason: I had forgotten to do one thing I tell coaches to do—protect themselves. I had a lapse, didn’t protect myself and now I needed to do some explaining.
The Dark Side of Coaching Sports
Let’s take a step back for a moment.
Like most jobs there are inherent dangers in coaching. Exsposures to those dangers and the impact from them can really hammer a coach. I’m talking about serious issuses that can have a lasting negative impact.
I call this the Dark Side of Coaching Sports.
We often pay a price to be a coach due to those risks. Unfortunately many of these risks are never discussed, and many coaches get blindsided by them. And that is exactly why a coach needs to take steps to protect himself.
And just to be clear, I’m not talking about winning and losing. This goes way past those two parts of what we do.
But aren’t other’s looking out for us?
An athletic department or community sports program is a busy place, probably understaffed, and struggling for resources. When a new coach arrives she usually gets a t-shirt, whistle, rule book, and way-too-little guidance.
So coaches are often left to their own devices
And the result can be?
Disaster. Big problems for the coach, the team, the organization, the sport. When a coach crashes and burns—fails, there can be a very nasty ripple effect.
I don’t want this post to turn into the mother-of-a-bummer posts, but let me just touch upon four of the top risks coaches need to protect themselves from.
Risk #1: A big impact on a coach’s health
I studied the impact of coaching on a group of 100 coaches. I tracked them over the course of a competitve season, and surveyed them once the seaon was over. What I found was that coaching can take a serious health toll on a coach in ways such as:
- Moodiness, distraction, burnout, boredom
- Poor performance
- feelings of hopelessness, irritability, cynicism, and impatience
- sleep disorders,
- depressed immune systems
- heart problems
Had enough? Not quite yet—you don’t have to search too far back to find stories of coaches who have been beaten, choked, robbed, murdered (and some those were at the hands of athletes or parents).
Risk #2: Out the window goes the job
An unprotected coach stands at greater risk of losing his job.
There are numerous ways, and we’ll have a chance to discuss them in future posts but just keep this in mind: coaches are fired, let go, moved on, replaced at a rate that would surprise. And having a losing season is NOT the main factor in a coach losing her job.
Risk #3: Too many coaches spend late nights staring at the ceiling
Can you spell STRESS. Sure you can. Every coach can. Cause it comes with the territory, it’s part of the job, stress and coaching go hand-in-hand.
If that’s so then why aren’t coaches trained to deal with stress?
Hm . . good question, that.
Risk #4: A coach risks isolation
Coaching is a lonely profession, even though you could find yourself surrounded by a huge team and thousands of fans—it can be very, very lonely.
The coach who doesn’t protect herself can find the lonliness of coaching overbearing.
So what did I do that caused the Athletic Director to call me to his office?
It was simple. I had talked to an administrator at my school and had not been as specific with my words as I should have been.
No harm done, but because I had not protect myself by being aware of my stage (one of the ways to protect yourself to be discussed) I had caused myself and others angst.
Protection is key. How do you do it?
I’m hoping you are fired up to start protecting yourself—that was my job in this post.
Looking ahead, I’ll be posting some steps you’ll want to consider. That info along comments from others could/should be really helpful.
Stay tuned, this stuff needs to be discussed.
– Mike Davenport