Coaching for a long time has shown me many things. I have made one of the biggest mistakes many coaches make and that is losing focus of the family, spouse, kids and the most important people in your life as you pursue excellence and chasing championship rings. I coached football for almost thirty years and in 2018 after a playoff loss I knew it was time to spend my weekday afternoons, Thursday and Friday nights with my wife and grown kids. I did my best to manage my schedule when my girls were growing up and rarely missed the big events. I was fortunate to coach them in softball for many seasons in community ball, travel ball and the high school level. Coaching at the high school level requires a good 25-30 extra hours a week of time depending on the sport.
Most days if your a teacher and football or wrestling coach run12-15 hours and that adds up quickly. Countless days coming home at 8:00-9:00pm just in time to eat a little, spend a few minutes catching up and back to bed to recover and do it again tomorrow. It is a passion that is not for everyone, but one that also can eat all of your time up. I know lots of coaches that literally missed a bunch of very important events with their family and spouses due to coaching and chasing wins and rings. With this being said I want my fellow coaches, leaders, teachers, pastors, mentors, business owners and whatever hat you wear to remember this one piece of advice from a long time coach. The most important ring is the one your spouse is wearing.
Let me repeat this, the most important ring you ever chased, bought, worked hard for and earned was the one your spouse is wearing. Do not let coaching isolate your family, sons, daughters, parents and spouse. Work hard, accomplish what it is you want that day and go home. I used to be told that I was one of the first to arrive on campus and because I coached three sports for over 13 years I was one of the last to leave. One day I realized something had to give and it could not be my relationship with my wife and kids. So I gave up head softball coaching, then football went in 2018 and now my only coaching job is still as a Head Wrestling Coach. I have learned to manage the time, energy and prioritize things much better as I gained experience, got older and learned from my mistakes. Below are some tips for balancing coaching and family.
1- Make sure family time is on your schedule. If that means you cut short a coaches meeting or wash the dirty team laundry the next day then find a time and stick to it. Do your best to manage family time and watch your kids grow up.
2- Set boundaries with the players, assistant coaches and parents. Have a meeting and emphasize that players must have rides at the end of practice. You would be surprised the extra time coaches spend sitting in the car or office waiting on a parent to pick up a kid. That is valuable time you cannot get back so establish a procedure for this. Your already giving tons of time, so do not waste the other waiting on people that cannot get their daily routine in order.
3- Delegate Responsibility. This is a huge one and is hard for many head coaches and athletic directors to do. Assign duties to players and coaches to take care of things. Two things I always volunteered for over the years was washing the dirty clothes from practice and making sure the locker room was clean. I would assign the locker room cleanup by football position and have an assistant coach watch over it daily to make sure it was done. Being on a team is more than practicing and playing. It is about sharing, helping and keeping everything neat, tidy and clean.
4- Include your own kids and family as much as possible. My kids grew up on football, softball and practice fields. They went with me to practices and games, helped out with managerial duties, kept scores, cleaned up and lots of other duties. They learned life skills doing this and were able to spend time with the team, the coaches, made friends and great memories.
5- Prioritize your spouse over everything. Communicate with your spouse, spend time with them, go our to eat after school or practice. Take short weekend trips or just spend time with them chilling out. This is the most important part of your support network. My wife gets all the credit for putting up with my coaching and was always my #1 support system. She was the one that I went home to when things were great, good, bad, ugly, hard, difficult and special.