How Coaches Can Fight Burnout

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Are you getting ‘er done…or just burned out?  Do you know when you’ve hit the wall and just can’t go hard anymore?  I was over at Bnet.com (a business website) and read a great article called “Is Your Company Turning You Into A Corporate Zombie?” and thought it made a lot of great points about what folks look like when they’re burned out and decided to bring it over here and put my coach spin on things.  How do you know when you’re burned out?  Well read on to find out!

**Keep your eyes peeled!  If you’re doing these things, you may be on the verge of burnout.**

1.       Your creativity level has dropped. Back in the day, you could spot a problem on your team and figure out a drill to fix it…or you’d schedule a team meeting…or you’d do whatever it took to address the issue.  Now, you’re flummoxed.  You’re all out of ideas to keep your team motivated.

2.       You spend less time in reflection. So I wrote this whole post about how leadership and solitude are linked (read it here) which makes it pretty obvious that I believe in giving yourself time to reflect.  When you’re burned out, you’re like the hamster on a wheel…just go-go-going!

3.       You laugh less. Your team goofball used to be able to make you smile no matter how intense you were in practice…not anymore.  Nothing’s funny because you’re tired, hopped up on caffeine, not eating right, and haven’t seen your family in weeks.

4.       You look beat down (like everyone else in your office). You come dragging in to the office at 7 am and you go dragging out at 9 pm.  You get home, go to bed, get up the next morning and do the same thing all over again. Why?  Because everyone else in the office does that when they’re in season.  You’re exhausted but you won’t rest or sleep or otherwise enjoy yourself because you’re “getting after it.”

5.       The sparkle in your eye dims. Talking about your team, planning practices, chatting with the coaching staff after practice…all of those things used to fire you up.  Now you sigh when someone asks about the team, dread planning practice, and hustle out of the gym as fast as you can when practice is over to avoid shop talk.

**Burnout killahs…do these 3 things to keep the bounce in your step!**

1.       Go home. Whether it’s to spend time with your family, or to make a proper meal, or just to relax and read a book…we all need to get away for a few hours.  Many, many things are out of our control as coaches.  Our players may get injured or another team may get the world’s best recruit, but our time?  It’s ours.  Let’s manage it so we can stay sane.

2. Set time limits on email/phone calls. Some of us think we can game the system.  We say, “oh, I go home at 6 every night.”  But what you don’t say is that you’re on the computer with the phone attached to your ear the whole time.  At some point, you’ve got to make an agreement with yourself when you’re going to turn everything off…and not just when it’s time to go to sleep!

3.       Workout/pray/meditate. Whatever you need to do to get your mind right…do it!  The idea of all of these burnout killahs is to get in control of your time, because it seems like burnout happens when you feel like there are so many things that you’ve “got” to do and you just “can’t” take time for yourself.  (I put those in quotation marks because they’re not empowering and most times just not true.)

Author’s note:  just because you’re doing the top five things doesn’t mean you’re burned out…you may thrive in that environment for short spurts.  But take an honest look at how you’re going about your business and figure out how long you can operate like that without losing your love of the game.