That evening after our final game, I felt we had established ourselves to be a contender in the upcoming season. We set out to sign some outstanding players and our staff just kept “burning the midnight oil” as we out-recruited many of the mid-major I-A teams in our state.
What happened next “rocked my world”…
As we approached signing day, allegations were coming across my desk of what was deemed minor violations regarding the 20-hour rule. Our athletic trainer supported a difference of opinion that the Egoscue Method we used to help players align their bodies counted in our 20 hours per week maximum allotment. According to this, we were over the limit by 2 hours per week. Other bizarre inquiries kept showing up as we were recruiting a banner class.
I just stayed focused on signing an outstanding recruiting class.
Then on January 28th, 2004, I got a call from the Vice President saying that they fired my athletic director (Greg LaFleur) and an hour after that, our staff had been let go… One week before signing day.
I was burned out, felt jaded, and could not understand that there had not been any communication regarding all these allegations. I was kept out of the loop during the season as various reports were being filed.
I decided to leave the profession because I felt that I needed a break from football. My marriage was a wreck, I rarely saw my children, I had lost 20 pounds, and this was all I had to show for my 100% commitment to Texas State University.
I am still grateful to Texas State for that opportunity to test out my plan. I know I’ve become a much better coach from that experience.
I had no idea of what balance was let alone how to achieve it while coaching football.
Balance; Defining the Concept
Many times in our profession, we never really get a hold of this thing called balance. Is there such a thing as life balance in coaching? Yes, there is, but it depends on how you define it.
I think that a lot of times coaches believe life balance means you can evenly distribute your time & energy to your work and personal life. That’s not the case in our profession.
My definition of balance is spending the appropriate amount of time in each of the major categories of life, so you’re in balance. That looks different in different seasons. Each part of the year is different for football coaches. In fact, you’re never going to be entirely balanced, but it’s always going to be this back-and-forth flow if you will.
There are three vital aspects of balance
Balance is not the same as rest.
Usually when coaches talk about how they need more balance, what they’re saying is, “I have to get some sleep. I’m worn out, and I need some rest.” I think that if you’re in balance, you’re getting an appropriate level of rest, but it’s not the same as balance.
If you told me you were out of balance, I might say to you, “Well tell me about your rest. What are you doing to rejuvenate? How much are you sleeping every night?” A football coach can still be getting rest and not be balanced, but that’s the first place to start.
Rest is like a piece of the whole “balance” puzzle, but it’s not “balance” in its entirety. Rest is the first and most important thing. In fact, if you’re not getting enough rest it will lead to a lack of productivity and creativity. It’ll result in not being focused and a lack of performance in preparing your team.
Balance is ever-changing.
There have been numerous times when I’ve been out of balance as a football coach. There are so many times I’ve had to give a lot of attention to projects at different times of the year. My solution to this workflow is to create a plan for recovery time. This arrangement enables me to act in a mode of “surge and rest.”
For example, if I’ve done a training camp installation for several days in a row, then I plan a free day or two, so I can just rest and recover. This method will counterbalance that work with an opportunity to rest and recover. It’s kind of a dynamic relationship between the two, a yin and yang so to speak.
Balance has to be created.
In other words, like so much of life, it’s a caused thing. It’s not just going to show up on your doorstep and say, “Here I am, I am in balance.” You have to make it happen with appropriate planning. I think that begins with your intention to create something different.
Balance; An Action Plan
Balance is achievable, and it starts with a clear focus on what that will look like in that time of the year or season of your life. That “balance” would be intentionally having time for each area of your coaching life. From recruiting, player development, teaching, professional development, family, exercise just to name a few.
Here is how I am intentional about creating and designing my life.
I start with a calendar and lay out a 5-year plan, then I take a look at my 2-year plan and work myself to the year’s calendar.
In dealing with my next year, I will break it up into the seasons that make sense for coaching football. In college, it will have the following areas: Recruiting, Professional development, Player development, vacation and the season. I believe that there has to be intention around my yearly schedule regarding how I want to have the balance on an annual scale.
Then it’s time to drill down even deeper into each segment of the year. At this point, I break up everything at 6-week intervals for significant projects. This routine ultimately comes down to my weekly and daily planning sequence. The key is to create an ideal week, so I can set myself up for success daily.
I believe that a football coach has to “win the day” within alignment to his master plan. It’s easy just to have a great day but if it doesn’t align with the compass you’ve set up then you are wandering throughout the wilderness, and you never get to where you’d like to go.