Time to Hang Up the Whistle

I read a lot, it just so happens that most of it this time of year is related to football. I have about 2 dozen blogs from various coaches that I follow daily. In reading all of these blogs, it appears that there is a common thread amongst HS coaches right about now. We all have a new batch of players with their own unique personalities, their own skill sets and quirks but they all have expressed a desire to come out, push themselves and try to play football as best they can. We as coaches have made a pact with these players that we will guide, train, nurture and motivate them to help make them a better player during the time we are together.

I read where coaches that have had great success with their players are very frustrated in where they currently find their team. I propose that all the joy, frustration, angst and disenchantment we face daily is our own creation. A team can no more dictate our state of mind than move the goal during a match. What sets us up for our emotional content is how we approach each day and our expectations of our teams as opposed to making solid assessments and goals for our progress.

Why is it then that seasoned coaches feel the need to qualify or excuse a team’s performance, do we forget that each season we have a new crop of blank canvas to mold and shape into the side as we see the game played? Or is it possible that the intangible aspects of coaching have a cumulative effect upon us? The unseen pressure of keeping this player engaged while helping that player through a difficult patch in their personal life? Does the parent that feels their player is not having the right opportunities within the team dynamic or the player with moderate skills but feels they are the “team”- do these things have the power to wear us down year after year? Of course they do.

In deciding to coach, we are making a committment to our vision of the game and our idea that we have something to contribute to the beautiful game. When the day comes that a coach wakes up and just wants to get through that day’s training or the match scheduled for the day instead of wondering if our lessons have been effective in helping player X sort through his or her latest slump, when we no longer find sheer joy through our players struggles to succeed and the moment when it all connects, I believe that is the day we hang up the whistle.

It take energy to coach. Our emotional investment can be all-consuming and draining, our physical schedules can be exhausting and the dance we do daily with players, parents, other coaches and ourselves all require energy. But, at the end of the day, we get to sit, reflect on what we have helped a child achieve and smile to ourselves and hopefully say “well done, coach, well done”

So, some may be looking to hang up their whistle now and enjoy the game from a different perspective. Me? I think I may stick around for this season at least.

till I see you on the pitch


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