Three Ways To Balance Coaching And Career

The standard day begins at 6 AM when Coach gets out of bed to begin the day. Helping his wife with two kids in the morning, grabbing breakfast for the road, and driving to school is always a rushed morning. In season, this is the only time besides weekends that Coach is able to interact with his own children.

At school, Coach teaches six physical education classes with one planning period as the day concludes at 3 PM. The planning period during the day allows Coach to plan his practice session and watch videos of future opponents.

Next comes the part of the day that Coach loves…Practice. Coach is the Varsity boys’ basketball coach at the local high school. Coach oversees the Junior Varsity practice from 3:15-4:45 and then he runs the varsity session from 4:45-6:30. It was a successful practice that led to personal growth as a coach as well as player development.

Coach is very good and because of his level of dedication over the course of numerous years, his teams have been a success and his players have moved on to solid colleges and careers.

After the conclusion of the 6:30 practice, Coach quickly goes to the fast food drive-thru, picks up his meal, and heads off to scout a future opponent who has a game that night at 7:30. This is all happening while Coach’s wife takes the kids to their after-school activities, feeds them dinner, and helps them with homework. Following homework, she tucks them into bed by herself once again.

On the other hand, Coach is excited because of the perfect timing involved with the game he is going to scout and that he will be able to see tip-off. Coach creates a great scouting report and is on the road home by 9:30. The 45-minute drive home allows him to give a kiss to his kids that went to bed at 7:30 and quietly sneak into his bed with his wife who fell asleep at 9:30.

With the alarm set for tomorrow morning at 6 AM, coach is extremely excited about his games tomorrow night. The JV game will begin at 5:30 and the Varsity at 7:30 allowing Coach to be involved in both games. The free time after school will be dedicated to watching videos of future opponents. Coach will be home earlier than an away game if everything goes as planned plus his wife and kids will be attending the varsity game so they will get to watch him doing what he loves…The perfect night!

Coaches – Does this life sound familiar to you? Are you feeling demands from your personal and professional life in which you feel out of control? How does the “wife” feel in the above story about the current state of the relationship? Do your own expectations for excellent job performance push you to work weeks that include 70 or more hours, health risks caused from stress and being overworked, and loss of family time?

Athletic coaching does not include the traditional 9 to 5 work life nor does it feature a time clock when work begins or ends. This type of environment could lead to coaches performing work activities at all hours of the day in order to complete the perceived amount of work needed to have a better opportunity for what is deemed success. Unfortunately, this coaching scenario eliminates time for mental and physical recovery away from coaching duties that would lead to increased health and life satisfaction. Is life success and harmony even possible for coaches and their families?

Work-life conflict for coaches is a common trend for all levels including youth, high school, and collegiate sports (Nein, 2016). In order to live a life of greater satisfaction, follow these three strategies for increased balance between work and life.

Strategy 1: Intentionally focus on strategies that limit work-life conflict.

• Communicate schedules, priorities, and future goals with your significant other and colleagues to better coordinate, understand, connect, and organize life in a functional manner.
• Efficiently work to complete the most important tasks at hand by prioritizing daily responsibilities and beginning the day prepared with the knowledge of what has to be accomplished during the work-day.
• Organise training sessions to prioritize what is important for the athletes to learn and efficiently move through these ideas to decrease practice time. As the season moves along and fewer concepts need to be introduced to the athletes, training times can be shortened.

Strategy 2: Establish professional boundaries between work and personal life.

• Schedule hobbies, family events, and personal activities within an itinerary just like office hours and work activities. Pursuing pleasurable activities away from work allows coaches to have higher levels of vigor and lower levels of fatigue upon returning to the job situation (Van Hoof, Geurts, Beckers, & Kompier, 2011).
• Establish work hours away from the office that are realistic in order to accomplish both personal life activities and work tasks.
• Personal health must remain a priority throughout the year by ensuring a consistent healthy diet and work-out regimen even at the busiest times.
• When interviewing, look for organizational policy that focuses on positive family interaction such as time-flexible work policies, maternity/paternity leave, on-site childcare, health insurance benefits, and spousal hiring programs.

Strategy 3: Develop a relationship with a mentor that has successfully created harmony between work pursuits and life activities.

• The social support that a mentor can provide will assist with maintaining balance and keeping healthy boundaries.
• Each person communicates about successes and difficulties to create learning opportunities of working towards a balanced life.
• Support from mentors and supervisors has been found to be an important factor in facilitating work-family balance (Mazzerolle & Goodman, 2013).

Increased balance in work and life has the opportunity to establish harmony within all aspects of the coach’s life. Employ each strategy on a daily basis and your successes will increase for both personal and professional life.


Mazzerolle, S. M., & Goodman, A. (2013). Fulfillment of work-life balance from the
Organizational perspective: A case study. Journal of Athletic Training, 48(5), 513-522.

Nein, B. (2016). Work-family conflict among youth, high school, and collegiate soccer coaches.
(Unpublished doctoral dissertation). United States Sports Academy, Daphne, AL.

Van Hoof, M. L. M., Geurts, S. A. E., Beckers, D. G. J., & Kompier, M. A. J. (2011). Daily recovery
from work: The role of activities, effort and pleasure. Work & Stress, 25(1), 55-74.

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