Pursuing practical and effective methods to enhance coaching longevity would serve the best interests of athletes, athletic programs, and coaches. Here are recommended strategies to reduce stress and burnout in the coaching profession.
This article was provided by the Coaches Network
By Michelle Moosbrugger, Ph.D.
As a coach, do you strive to facilitate positive development in your athletes? Do you form strong relationships and pride yourself on your team’s improvements on and off the field while displaying professionalism? If so, you certainly appear to be a coach that an administrator would like to retain for years to come. However, many perceive coaching to be demanding and stressful, which may lead to withdrawal from the profession (Frey, 2007). Pursuing practical and effective methods to enhance coaching longevity would serve the best interests of athletes, athletic programs and administrators, and coaches. Coaches and administrators can play a role in supporting retention.
Coaches can apply strategies to reduce stress and burnout, and position themselves for longevity. Recommended strategies for coaches include:
- Recognize enjoyment. If you love what you are doing, a long career is more probable and palatable! Try making a “Love of Coaching” list. Identify aspects of your job, your athletes, and your sport that you truly enjoy. Keep the list in a place where it can be accessed during challenging times.
- Be competent. Maintaining a current level of knowledge by attending professional development events, reading, and networking will enhance your coaching competence, as well as your confidence! By exposing yourself to new ideas, you may ignite your thirst for continual learning.
- Evaluate the match. By choosing to coach at a college/university/school/club with a philosophy that matches your own, and provides the financial support and facilities you need, you are reducing potential sources of stress. Likewise, carefully evaluate prospective staff members, like assistant coaches, to ensure they are competent and a good fit for your coaching philosophy.
- Create a support network. Based on a study by Judge et al. (2015), social support aided in reducing stress related to daily tasks of track and field coaches. Social support can be attained by building trusting professional and personal relationships.
- Employ coping strategies. Coping with coaching-related stress should emphasize proactive rather than reactive strategies, and a combination of perceptual and behavioral strategies. Organization and management, including prioritizing, using technology, and delegating would proactively reduce the potential for stress. Self-awareness and maintaining a positive outlook exemplify perceptual strategies while exercising and settling on a routine method of planning practices represent behavioral strategies.
- Balance. Work-life balance is critical to longevity. Scheduling “me time” and focusing on your family on specific days or certain parts of each day – or involving your family at team events – will help to support balance.
Given the expenses of seeking and hiring new coaches, retention of effective coaches clearly benefits administrators. Strategies for administrators include:
- Evaluate the match. Ensure the prospective coach is a good fit for the college/university/ school/club to reduce the likelihood of future problems. Be honest about financial support and other resources so prospective coaches can make a decision about the position with relevant information.
- Encourage professional development. Providing opportunities for coaches to attend workshops and conferences will enable them to continue learning and enhancing their competence and confidence. Offering time and financial support are imperative to enable professional development.
- Provide feedback. Celebrate coaches’ successes on a regular basis! Coaches do not often receive the feedback or verbal persuasion that would ultimately enhance their self-efficacy (perception of ability to complete a task successfully). With increased self-efficacy, coaches are more likely persist in times of difficulty.
- Consider the scheduling. How can you best support work-life balance in relation to the scheduling of facilities and coaching obligations? Does the scheduling allow for coaches to spend quality time with their families and take a break as needed?
- Employ mentoring. Veteran coaches may revel in the opportunity to serve as mentors for novice coaches. This is a win-win situation, as veteran coaches will feel empowered and valued, while new coaches have the chance to learn, grow, and receive feedback.
Frey, M. (2007). College coaches’ experiences with stress – “Problem solvers” have problems, too. The Sport Psychologist, 21, 38-57.
Judge, L. W., Kirkpatrick, K., Bolin, J., Blom, L. C., Dieringer, S., & Bellar, D. (2015). Understanding the occupational stress of collegiate track and field coaches during the championship season. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 10(5), 769-782.
Michelle Moosbrugger, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Physical Education and the Graduate Coordinator for the PEHE Department at Springfield College. The Springfield College Physical Education and Health Education Department offers master’s degree programs in Advanced-Level Coaching, Athletic Administration, Physical Education Initial Licensure, Adapted Physical Education, and Advanced Pedagogy. Post-master’s programs include a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Physical Education and a Ph.D. in Physical Education: Teaching and Administration. With the Springfield College teacher-coach model, students in the Advanced Level Coaching program interact with experienced, highly successful coaches in the classroom and on the playing field. The curriculum and embedded fieldwork aid coaches in developing leadership and administrative skills while improving athletic performance. Recent graduates of the Advanced Level Coaching program are employed as head and assistant coaches in NCAA Division I, II, and III institutions. For more information on any of the graduate programs, please contact Michelle Moosbrugger at [email protected]