Do you feel like a second class citizen as a coach?
You are taking self-help actions, right?
There are simple actions you can take to help you stay in coaching longer, and have more fun.
There’s a myth circulating in the world of coaching sports and it goes like this:
It’s all about the athletes, not about the coach
There is a wee bit of truth to it, in that it IS all about the athletes — but to a point. YOU, coach, are just as important as the athletes.
Sacrilege? Nope — truth.
Here’s why. First, a coach is a human being, just like the athletes, with dreams and needs and imperfections. Second, the coaching interaction should not be a win/loss situation, where the athletes win, but to do so the coach needs to lose.
Why can’t both win?
They can, but only if coaches watch the path ahead.
The Coaching Path
It bothers me to hear the myth of it “being all about the athlete” because it promotes that coaches are dispensable — a commodity, a piece of disposable equipment. I don’t buy that.
Neither should you.
Yes, athlete health, development, and well-being is and should be at the top of every coach’s agenda. Yet the coach shouldn’t pay a price for those to happen. Especially not the heavy prices some coaches today are paying.
I get it, there are a few coaches who are making great money, are well known celebrities, are living the dream. But they are a tiny minority — very tiny. Just as the anti-hero coaches who do criminal deeds are also a tiny minority.
However, the rest of us coaches are hard working guys and gals who coach because it’s in our soul — something we love. So we choose to travel down the coaching path. And that means we are susceptible to dangers in that path, because love has a way of blinding us to reality.
The Lurking Dangers
Coaches run into many obstacles: in day to day operation, in their careers, in the legacy they leave.
A contributing factor to that fact is that coaches believe they are too busy to take time for themselves. “I must work harder so there’s no time for me” is a constant refrain. The more this is repeated, the bigger the dangers that lay ahead.
A few signs a danger is coming up fast:
- A lingering cough or mystery lump that gets ignored
- A significant other waiting at home, again, after THE TALK
- A stack of overdue bills on the kitchen counter
- A mechanic wondering why your car is 5000 miles late for your service
- A pet — the one who barks at strangers — now barks at you
If I wanted to get cute I could say there will be three types of dangers lurking in your path, and they’ll look something like these:
A speed bump (a rise that gets your attention and slows you down)
A pothole (a depression that damages your vehicle and rattles your teeth)
A cliff (a drop that can cause major damage, possibly fatal)
But I’m not cute, and this is serious, so let me put it like this, if you don’t look out for yourself, take action that puts you as #1, you’re going to get into trouble. Maybe not today, or even tomorrow, but it will happen, and probably sooner than you think.
Action You Should Take
So what do you do?
Try this, following are 21 simple actions. They aren’t intended to help you win a single contest, but they will help you stay in the coaching-game longer, avoid potential dangers, keep the love going:
- Use appropriate word choices, and when you figure out what to say, don’t yell it. (In other words, “Don’t cuss, don’t scream.”)
- Use “Please.” Use “Thank You.” Most importantly, expect the same from others.
- Exercise daily, both mind and body. You will feel better, look better, be a better example.
- Surround yourself with people who care about you, and who will be there when things get tough (because it will get tough!)
- Communicate your schedule, especially changes, to those around you who are outside of your coaching world (Sig-other, kids, etc)
- Turn off email and social media alerts on your phone.
- Don’t read social media comments. Not on your posts or on the posts of other people. Not the reviews and not the trolls. (HT – Seth Godin)
- Put your phone away when you drive and turn it off at night.
- Get 20% more sleep then you think you need. Try power naps (max 20 min), they are a fantastic rejuvenator.
- View each practice and contest as an opportunity to create, not as a chance to destroy.
- Eat your veggies (aka eat healthy) especially if you are traveling.
- Don’t meet with athletes alone. Have another adult or leader present when you meet.
- Establish well-defined boundaries with your players and fellow coaches.
- Get a regular physical check up. Communicate clearly with doctor about the rigors of coaching, and any health worries you have (I’ve lost friends who didn’t do this.)
- Have planned escapes from coaching. Movies, fishing, sumo wrestling. Get away and take a break.
- Breath every day. Of course you breath, but try it mindfully, a few times each day. The benefits are huge.
- Do something new, where you employ a coach. Having a coach will make you a better coach.
- Once a week, treat yourself to something special.
- Do something that scares you each day. Standup comedy, a letter to a hero, those things can open hearts and minds.
- Get a mentor (someone who can help you with your coaching) and contact them
- Form your own “Board of Directors.” A bunch of friends (5 is the magic number) and get together regularly to talk, laugh, and munch (same but different than #4, that’s more of a family type group).
There are a thousand other actions you can take, I offer these suggestions as ones I take to help me avoid lurking dangers. Coaching itself is not inherently dangerous, but there are dangers that lurk.
Listen, here’s the bottom line — ignore that myth and be proactive … working with people requires us to do that. Being a coach demands you to take action. And being a human is all about taking action.
There can be much joy in coaching, but there are dangers too. Watch the path, coach carefully, and enjoy the ride. I’m here, let it rip.
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Until next week, go out and coach well. We need ya!!