The Purpose of Coaching


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the purpose of coaching

When the purpose of coaching fades

You can see the light fade in a coach’s eyes when they start to lose their passion. That coach who used to be so passionate when they were talking softball has changed. Now they’re stressed, tired and frustrated. It’s heartbreaking to watch. And it happens all too often.

What they once loved turns to resentment. Hours spent prepping, planning, and organizing. Time away from family and your personal life. Being constantly questioned and judged for your decisions. Waking up the morning before games is no longer exciting, but stressful. It’s no wonder coach turnover seems to be getting higher.

And it’s not the coach’s fault- though they usually take the blame. It’s the current structure of coaching. We aren’t equipped with the systems, training and support to deal with all of the stress. And we can deal with quite a bit! But we’re human and it can eventually get to you.

Fortunately, there are ways to combat the stress and reconnect with the reasons you got into coaching in the first place. We’ve identified a few key factors that affect coaches. We also give you some actionable strategies to make sure you hold onto that passion and stay in coaching. Read on!

The purpose of coaching is to make an impact on and beyond the field

Ask any serious coach why they do what they do and they almost always answer the same way:

“I want to help my players develop as athletes and people.

Are you nodding your head? We agree! This it definitely what draws most people to coaching. Most importantly, it’s what keeps them coming back for more! In spite of the million other not-as-fun responsibilities that come with coaching. Seeing that light bulb go off in your player’s head when something clicks makes it all worth it!

As nice as the sentiment is though, it’s not always that easy to accomplish. Every coach is different, so every coach must take their own approach to getting that impact for their girls. You do this best by doing these three things:

Know the purpose of coaching for you personally

At first you may think this sounds selfish. Think of it this way: have you ever had a boss, teacher or coach who was clearly unhappy with what they were doing? Not the most pleasant experience for you either, right? That’s what happens when the leader isn’t getting what they need from all the work they’re doing.

If you want to give your best to others, you need to make sure you’re fulfilled. That happens when you feel the emotions that lift you up and light you up. So what do you feel on your best days? Impactful? Peaceful? Happy? Choose 1-3 and then write them down. When you’re having a rough day, look at those words and think of just one way you could feel that way today.

Discover how you make the biggest impact within your purpose of coaching

When we talk about coaching styles, everyone says to be you! But what exactly does that mean? We typically look to other coaches to see what they do and try to be like them. Then when it comes down to game time, we end up coaching how we were coached. So we’re back to the beginning- not being ourselves.

Instead of going through this cycle over and over again, we like to use a little quiz we found called Sparketypes. This self-assessment will help you discover what your passion is. It answers the question: what lights me up? When you answer this question, you’ll see all of the other details of HOW you go about coaching fall into place.

Here are our Sparketypes as examples. Mel is a Sage, or the person who is driven to teach and share wisdom. As a coach, this means approaching every practice, game and mistake as a lesson to be learned from. Above all, it means sharing the things you’ve learned in order to help your players on and off the field.

Alicia’s Sparketype was Advisor, or the person who gives guidance. What sets advisors apart is their desire to be hands-on working closely with people. Advisors are also usually better at picking up clues when a player is feeling off and needs some extra support, on the field and off.

Each Sparketype is slightly different, but they can ALL be used to be the best coach YOU were meant to be. Once you know the main thing that sparks you on the field, you’ll see how everything else feels more like you.

Discover your Sparketype here for free!

Communicate with the right intentions to stay within the purpose of coaching

There are many different styles of communication. Some coaches are passionate, others are very calm, and many fall somewhere in between. And of course there are many opinions on which is best. We believe all of these styles can be extremely effective. You just have to keep one thing in mind: be kind.

Not nice, not mean, not harsh or soft. KIND. Ever wonder how players who play for “yeller” perform so well when it seems so stressful? Or how a coach who is super laid back can motivate or get their players fired up? It’s because they give feedback that is kind and has one purpose: to help the player improve.

This means being honest and communicating from a place of caring. It’s not always positive feedback. It’s actually best if most of what you tell players is constructive. If your players know you care about them and are there to help them grow, they will hear the message regardless of how you say it.

That’s what really matters: are you being kind when you communicate with your players? And do they know you care?

The purpose of coaching is blurred by frustration

Now you know what it takes to fulfill your purpose of making an impact, but there are challenges too. Coaches have a lot on our plates. From planning, scheduling and budgeting to teaching, problem-solving and managing. There are a million things to do on top of trying to make an impact, and sometimes it takes its toll.

We’ve unfortunately heard many stories of coaches quitting, being let go or moving on to try to find a better fit. The cause is almost always the same: the coach is frustrated and doesn’t know what else to do. If you’ve ever felt this way, you are certainly not alone. The trouble is when it leads to burnout.

Researchers Peter Olusoga and Goran Kentta published an article in The Sport Psychologist in 2017 about two high-performance coaches who got burnt out and ended up quitting. They talked about two main causes that led to burning out. Do these sound familiar?

Causes of not being able to live your purpose of coaching

Feeling guilty that they weren’t making the impact they desired or expected:

“There were more expectations on myself, high standards to live up to something, some ideal image that does not really exist but that you fantasize about… you should be able to handle everything in a proper professional manner. I think my own image of myself that I can be a certain way, is not really true. To be strong, not to be vulnerable, able to handle any situation.”

Feeling like the didn’t have enough time or energy for work and personal responsibilities:

“In many other jobs, you are there, you do the job and then you can go home and relax. But it is a little different as a head coach when you have to please everyone and be the one who always inspires, gives energy and positivity to others, and the one who’s always happy and can put things right. All of that requires you to be right on top all the time. It’s pretty tough, especially since you have a family situation where you have no energy at home either because you are too damn grumpy and tired.”

Effects of not being able to live your purpose of coaching

The effects of burning out are all too familiar- even with coaches who are sticking it out:

Lacking energy . Indecisive . Trouble sleeping . Poor eating habits . Muscle tension . Headaches . Negative thinking . Feeling anxious . Feeling lost . Stress on personal relationships

This breaks our hearts to hear, because we’ve been through it too. It’s a terrible feeling. Especially when our intentions are so good! So what is it that gets coaches through the crap?

The purpose of coaching is easier to achieve with support

Having a strong support system is the key. They can help you gain a more helpful perspective when you feel frustrated. They can help you get unstuck when nothing you’re trying seems to be working. Plus they can help you stay patient through the long, sometimes slow process that is coaching.

That all sounds wonderful, right? Then why don’t people seek support more often? As with mental health in general, there’s still a stigma around “asking for help.” Because we coaches are supposed to be strong, have the answers, be shining examples of resourcefulness! Admitting we need support often feels like vulnerability and weakness. Or it makes us feel guilty because “that person has enough on their plate already.”

To see the flaw in this point of view, watch ANY movie with a clear hero. Then look at their supporting cast. Do you really think Batman would get anywhere without his “butler” Alfred? Or Luke Skywalker without Yoda? You know why The Avengers series has been one of the highest-grossing movie franchises in history? Because they’re a TEAM!

Creating a team to support your purpose of coaching

That’s what we try to tell our girls right? So who’s on your team? Even more importantly, what role do they serve in helping you be your best? Here are some types of support people need:

Cheerleader– someone who gives you a boost and reminds you why you’re awesome
Pusher– someone who challenges you and pushes you to be better
Realist– someone who can call it like it is, even if you don’t want to hear it
Reframer– someone who can take any crappy situation and find the silver lining
Listener– someone who can listen without judgment as you vent
Perspective-giver– someone on the “outside” who can give you a different, honest perspective

You may agree with all or just a few of them. Which do you already have? Which do you feel you need? When creating your team, keep this main thing in mind: you are the sum of the 5 most influential people in your life. So whose influence do you want to surround yourself with?

Are you ready to fulfill your purpose in coaching?

To recap, there are three things you need to do to allow yourself to make the impact you desire. First you need to know how you need to show up in order to make that impact. Second, you have to be aware of the causes and symptoms of burnout. Finally, you must surround yourself with an amazing support team that can help you regain perspective and stay fulfilled so you can make the biggest impact.

We’ve shared a lot in this episode, so take your time taking action on it. Focus on one thing at a time, whether it’s realizing you’re starting to feel burnt out, figuring out your why or building your support system. It may take a few days or a few weeks, but if you do it right you’ll get much more enjoyment from coaching. And when you’re happy and fulfilled, it will make you a better coach too!

Want to fast-track this process and take advantage of our system and support? Then we invite you to learn more about our services, which were designed to help softball coaches have more fulfilling, purpose-driven careers! Here are the three main things we offer. We have multiple levels based on your needs and ability to invest.

Dream Team Blueprint– mental training system
So you can take one thing off your plate to help prevent burnout.

Coaches’ mastermind– with Mel & up to 4 other coaches
So you can have a support team to help give you perspective and stay on track for making a huge impact this season

Consulting– with Alicia
So you can also take the teaching off your plate and have the support of another voice to help your players grow

To learn more about our Dream Team Blueprint & higher levels, head here!





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