How to Deal With Burnout as a Football Coach

“There are two types of coaches, them that’s fired and them that’s gonna be fired”

Bum Phillips

If you have not figured it out yet, every coach has a down season and faces doubts from many people. The hardest doubts will always come from within. You will go through periods where you will question if this was the right fit for you as a career choice. When you lay yourself out in the public light, you will be criticized often by those you feel you can trust. My advice is to ignore both the cheers and the boos and focus on those who truly matter – your family. 

At any job a coach can take, there will be detractors. They can take the form of many shapes, a disgruntled parent or player. They can be a coach who may not be bought into what you are wanting to accomplish. It could be an administrator or teacher in the school you work. Now I am not advocating for a coach to stay in a place they are not respected and appreciated, but I do want to mention even at the best schools this issue happens. 

There are no perfect situations, and if you leave every time you have those that disagree this may not be the profession for you. Coaching is a calling and unfortunately, it is becoming more and more difficult to simply do the job we want to do without those that will detract from the goals you set out.

There are also going to be several “no-win” situations a coach will run into during his career. Understand that your number one job is to protect your players even when they are at fault to the media. This means accepting blame even if you feel that you have done all that could have been done to give your athletes a chance to win. Being a coach often means not being liked and often is a very lonely position, especially as a head coach.

Remember this when working with the media: If the team wins – the players earned it. If the team loses – it was the coaches that must own it.

I’ve personally had many moments that I felt I was a failure. Losing games can take it’s toll, but I am not talking about that aspect. Losing the ability to help athletes has been the hardest part of the job for me during my career. Watching young men/women make poor choices and having to let them go from your team is difficult. For every success story that I am so proud to have been a small part of, there are many that I was not able to reach. It is a very difficult decision to remove a player, or a coach, from the program, but you must remember that as the leader of a program you are tasked to do what is best for the entire organization. 

Understand that losing will cause every aspect of the program to come under the microscope and winning often is the perfume to cover up the body odor. Often, when we win we feel everything was done right and when we lose everything was wrong. Most likely, there are always ways to improve, and not every part of what was done was a failure if the game did not turn out how we had hoped. Continue to work through the losses and through the wins. One of the most difficult things to do is to keep the team focused on improving during a winning streak, or to understand that not everything they are doing is wrong during a losing streak. 

This article was originally published in Headsets: Volume 2, Issue4.


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