Episode 40 – Burn Out

Your Sports Resource


In this episode, we discuss a common issue among coaches – burnout. I will share some insights on how coaches can navigate burnout in a healthy way for themselves and their clubs. Tune in to the Your Sports Resource Podcast and take your sports leadership to the next level.

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00:00:03 – Introduction

This is the Your Sports Resource podcast, where each week, you’ll learn actionable strategies that you can implement so the operations of your club support your coaching staff and the direction of your organization. We are committed to excellence in youth sports leadership.


Let’s get started.


Hello and welcome to the Your Sports Resource podcast. My name is Renata Porter and I’m really happy to have you with me today.


Today I’m going to talk about burnout and coach burnout, and I’ve really been noticing lately that a lot of coaches are going through a bit of just, I don’t know what to call it other than burnout.


I mean, we all experience it some time or another, but for some reason it seems like I’m getting more conversations or I’m having more conversations with coaches that are struggling a bit.


So, you know, they say things like we’re coming out of COVID and, you know, things are starting to get back to normal.


And I don’t really understand why I feel so tired and irritated, and I don’t know that I really have an answer as to the why because it really could be a myriad of different things.


Some universal you know, some specific to them, but what I’d like to discuss today is how you can navigate burnout in a healthy way, healthy both for you and the club.


Being a coach can be a pretty rewarding job.


OK, I understand the draw to the excitement of seeing accomplishments and the growth happening all around you and being a pivotal person and other success, I really get that.


But I think where some boards and outsiders looking in kind of fail when making assumptions with some coaches is that they feel like it’s an easy job and they don’t work a lot of hours.


We do our coaches an absolute injustice by making assumptions because they don’t work a regular nine-to-five job like many of us do.


Know what they do is really early mornings and late nights and then work in the middle of the day.


Sure, they take breaks, but in the middle of the day is when they have their meetings, when they do their administrative tasks, you know, like planning or learning.


Keep in mind how disrupted the schedule is, right?


They’re gone during prime family hours, so they miss morning and evening family time, and let’s not even get into meets in the amount of a wait time they have, especially during championship season.


I do understand that coaches choose these professions, however, it’s not something you, as a non-coach, should use to be dismissive of their investment in the job.


Some weeks they work well over 80 hours, and some, they don’t.


Either way, due to the schedule, it can be quite hard on them and their personal life, and that’s very real to them. So, it should be very real to you as a parent or board member.


You know, nothing really chaps, my ass more than hearing a board member scoff at the hours a head coach is putting in and actually being really dismissive because.


You know, they themselves won’t even scratch the first layer to look honestly at the amount of work that goes into being a coach, especially a head coach.


So, if you’re a prospective client of mine and a board member, and you behave in this way, fair warning, you’re going to get an earful from me.


All right. So, let’s get on to what I want to discuss today, and that’s I want to focus on you coaches.


If you find yourself in a situation where you either know you’re burned out or just feel off and can’t put your finger on what’s happening, let’s talk about how you can.


Work your way through this time and what you can do to pull through to the other side in a healthy way.


The first thing I want to talk about is taking a good look at your workload. This kind of goes into what I talk a lot about.


With organizational design, you know where you’re holding on to tasks just because you think it’s easier than offloading to someone else, right?


So, whether this is a permanent solution and you’re trying to reestablish roles or now when you’re trying to navigate your stress level, it could be a temporary solution where you ask for some support.


So really, you can get some breathing room, for example.


Maybe you let someone else do the monthly newsletter for a couple of months. Make it fun, like a guest post or something different.


And take a look at other tasks that can be suspended for maybe a month or two, for example. You know, I rate having regular one-on-one meetings with your staff as part of the highest priorities to having a well-functioning team.


But during championship season, maybe you put those on hold, and I’m sure the other coaches would appreciate that as well.


Now, I’m not saying on permanent hold, just why you get to a really busy time of your year because they are incredibly important things to keep on place with.


So, look at your workload and decide what you can delegate either permanently or temporarily and what tasks can be put on temporary hold.


There’s actually a tool on the website called the Not-To-Do List. Go find it. I’m sure it would be really helpful.


Next, it’s important to set some clear boundaries for yourself and make your staff, parents, and board aware.


As an example, I have one client that has decided that he will not look at emails after a certain hour that once he’s home, he’s home, and he’s focused on what little family time he has.


The staff, parents, and board are made aware that responses will come the next morning when he is back online.


If it’s an emergency, it’s known to the staff and the board to give them a phone call. I think honestly, you have to get good at protecting yourself.


Now, I’m not telling you to say no to everything, but what I am saying is to learn to say not right now.


Yes, I can do that, but I will need to wait a few weeks when I have the time to focus on it, right, or no, that’s not something I have the skill set nor time.


However, I will help you find someone, or I can delegate that to another coach who would be perfect, right?


It’s all in how you approach it. Setting those expectations if you seriously need some downtime and be honest about it.


Set expectations with your staff and whoever else needs to know that you are going to take time between practices and that the output of certain tasks will be delayed.


Now, I’m not talking about a coach being lazy, right? I’m talking about how to navigate burnout and just giving yourself a little bit extra time.


Another thing to consider regarding boundaries is setting some realistic expectations for yourself.


I’ve had to learn to do this myself where you know, I set my laundry list to a million things, and then I’m always disappointed that I don’t get things accomplished.


And it’s not about setting the bar low.


It’s about being realistic about what you can accomplish in a certain time frame and being OK with being human versus superhuman.


If you set the expectation of six things outside of practices, and that’s what you get done, then great.


If you’re able to get 10 extra things done, even better. But your goal should be to prioritize 6. Hopefully, that makes sense.


Next, I want to discuss prioritizing your own good habits.


Quite honestly, this is for all of us, and something we should ensure is a long-term strategy, but ensuring we have good sleep, proper nutrition, exercise, and moments of calm and centering is what I’m getting at.


I kind of find this an oxymoron of sorts. I don’t know if that’s the right word, but we as a collective push sport and nutrition, but we often aren’t the best role models.


Now the 1st place I want to start with is sleep.


There’s so many resources out there regarding getting good sleep and developing a good sleep habit that I am sure that each of you can work through what will work for you.


For example, you know they tell us that don’t go to sleep looking at a screen because you need at least 30 minutes away from the screen because of the blue light, right?


And so if you take your time and go through some resources and set yourself up to where you get a really good night’s sleep, like reading a book or something like that to help you go to sleep but staying away from the screen, I think that builds a great habit for you to have feel better the next day and the day after that.


And the only other area where I want to talk deeper here. As far as developing great habits is creating moments of calm.


I know that sounds really woo-woo, but if you can allocate 10 to 30 minutes of your day praying, meditating, or just sitting in silence, it’s pretty crazy how much it helps your mood and things like stress and your blood pressure.


Much like sleeping. You have to develop the habit, which means you have to repeat the activity. No matter how strange it feels.


It kind of reminds me of that scene in eat, pray, love, where Julia Roberts character is trying to meditate for the first time, and she can’t really turn her brain off.


And there’s like this montage of thoughts and craziness that keeps going through her mind, and she finally opens up her eyes and see that the clock really hasn’t even barely moved in her one-hour-long meditation session, but the point being don’t give up.


Our brains will push us to keep the inner dialogue going but don’t fret if you keep practicing, you will learn to relax in that moment, and it’s an amazing tool for your well-being.


The last point I want to make regarding establishing good habits is that no one is going to prioritize you, but you people love you, but you are the only one who is in complete control of your life, your mental state, and your health.


It’s not a bad thing to prioritize yourself so you can be available to serve like you wish, and I don’t say that lightly.


As a coach, you do serve youth and their families. So, it’s not being selfish. Prioritizing your habits give you much more energy and freedom to be the best you can be for others.


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OK. One last point I want to make regarding navigating burnout and that is to seek support.


Too often, we don’t communicate that we need a break or some time to recuperate for whatever reason you may feel it makes you look weak, or you’re worried about what others would think, and if you have a board member that, who makes assumptions about you?


I get That. But that shouldn’t stop you because, honestly, people are seeing the cracks already if you aren’t ahead of this.


You’re probably being short-tempered with people, or you’re not delivering on promises as you should. So be upfront with your staff and talk to them about it.


Chances are they’re feeling the same way. Maybe you initiate a plan where there is a round Robin of support filling in, so everyone gets a bit of relief, right.


So, it starts with speaking up and communicating the need for some relief. I think you will be really surprised how well you will be supported.


I don’t know anyone who truly wants to see another person fall flat in the coaching environment more often than other industries, people understand that you succeed and falter as a team.


You either lift each other up, or it becomes mayhem. So, trust your team to support you.


Navigating burnout as a swim coach requires first recognizing a problem is either here or coming down the line, and then you need to put some practices in place to help you as of outlined today.


That’s looking at your workload, pressing pause on some items, and or delegating other tasks, then putting yourself in a position. Where you set limits and prioritize some positive personal habits.


Lastly, seek support and communicate your situation. Your team wants you working on all cylinders and will support you.


Thank you for listening today, and please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast so that we can reach more people such as yourself. I really do appreciate you spending time with me.