When coaching sucks..

Cue Julie Andrews..”I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel soooo badddddd”….The smell of the grass, the perfect lines on the turf and the bright green against the woods in the background, the walk-down song, the pre-game dinners, the post-game handshakes, the half-time speeches, the matching jackets, the shared anticipation, the shared victories and defeats, the bus ride home, the comebacks, the unexpected heroes, these are a few of my favorite things!

I’ve been on teams throughout growing up, but as life continued on the opportunity to be a part of a team as a player slowly drifted away.  I found myself again, filled a hole that was missing something when I became a coach and though I didn’t know why at the time, over the years I have discovered that I thrive in a team atmosphere. I am right where I belong in the middle of a group of people all reaching to be their best, individually and together. I was growing as a person when I was part of a team.  But coaching, especially in this current climate is hard. It’s very hard. Sometimes coaching just, well there’s no other way to say it, it just sucks.

Why do you coach? What’s in it for you? What keeps you from walking away when it gets ugly? Unless you’re coaching college football I doubt you’re in it for the pay or the fame or a chance at coaching Pro. Often as coaches we look at what we are doing for our players to help them grow, learn, and develop, as a motivator, as we should. But we can become empty during a difficult season because we don’t see the flip side of the equation.  Yes, we are getting incredible affirming returns from seeing our players thrive, seeing them succeed, watching them overcome adversities and find their potential and those rewards are fulfilling and show we are coaching with purpose. But there’s something else we are missing, something pretty important that coaching does for us as a part of the team. Something we probably don’t appreciate at face value unless we change our thinking.

Take a look at the other side. The stuff we don’t like so much – those interactions with difficult parents, the new team policy that blew up on us, the witty comment that ended up hurting someone’s feelings, the play that backfired, the player we let down, the player that didn’t reach their potential, the team that never gelled, the playoff that never was but should have been, the misunderstanding we couldn’t clear up, the power hungry family that tried to take us out – those are the stretchers, the growers, the “I DON’T LIKE THIS!” moments that sharpen us and make us better if we can manage to not quit through them.  We get something out of coaching that has nothing to do with the game. We become better people, better leaders, better servers. We aren’t just transforming our players out there, we have to let this position and this team transform US as well. If I’ve been the same coach for 10, 20 years then I’m missing the incredible gift that coaching offers me to be better.

If you are staring up at a wall in your coaching experience right now remember, once you can scale this wall you’ll know how to scale the next one. This struggle is going to make you more effective, stronger, more understanding, and your team, your family, and your life will benefit every year from the growth that you allow yourself to experience. It isn’t enough to focus on the parts of coaching that you love because even those may not keep you around through some of the darker storms coaching can bring. You have to truly be grateful for what the storm is doing for you so that you can get through it and get something beneficial out of it.

There are seasons that I’ve wanted to walk away because it got too hard. There are preseasons where I wondered if I’d even make it to season start day. But as “a league of their own” so eloquently stated, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it.  The hard is what makes it great.”

When you think of your why this season, when you picture those players transforming, your love of the game, and all that you can do for them as you serve – don’t forget that you’re changing too, that your transformation is a part of the process and that you’re still reaching for your own potential too!

Coach on! 🙂

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