Coaches are expected to do one thing, win games.
However, coaches also commit to a laundry list of written and unwritten responsibilities tied to personal and professional expectations, dealing with overbearing parents, and the impact they're leaving as a leader. It's a commitment that requires the most significant sacrifice, time.
While coaches are striving to build elite programs and student-athletes, there's always another play to be drawn up, a student-athlete who needs help, and for coaches who are also a part of classroom learning, there are lesson plans and grading. But rarely do we speak about how commitments to family vacations, dance recitals, Friday night games, spouses, and friendships commonly slip into the number two spot.
Whether a coach is hanging banners every year or working tirelessly to turn a program around, they can't be everywhere at once, and the duties of a school program can be demanding. So there's no space for the word "balance," - only sacrifice.
For example, a program may hire a coach to build a winning team and increase graduation rates. To succeed, coaches must designate time for tasks, such as:
- Ensuring student-athletes are going to class and passing
- Eligibility requirements
- Film review, practice, and game-day operations
- Those who are also teachers, checking assignments and log grades.
And those hours typically land before and after school hours.
While stretching time thin to manage work and professional life, some coaches may experience a tug on their mental well-being. The pressure from self-expectations, the self-doubt that arises about their ability to handle the job, or the guilt of not dedicating enough time for family/loved ones start to add up.
So, do coaches also sacrifice their "me" time? The time they sit, reflect and take a deep breath from the responsibilities. We can only hope not, but unfortunately, some do. But, if time and mental well-being teach us anything, it's that you can't be everything to everyone - boundaries are a necessity.
So, next time you see a coach taking 10 minutes to themselves...just let them be.