Balancing coaching with family

By Kevin Hoffman

Between games, practices, strategy meetings and team workouts, it’s difficult for coaches to carve out quality time with their families. But it’s not impossible.

Balancing coaching duties with family requires a careful approach, and it’s critical that everyone develops a plan to make it work. Here are three important tips.

1. Embrace inclusion

One mistake coaches make is convincing themselves that football and family must be separate.

Kyle Whittingham, head football coach at the University of Utah, said his program encourages wives to join all the coaches for dinner once a week. Coaching staffs at all levels — especially in high schools where coaches might also teach classes — can have little free time during the season. Finding a way to include family with football can bring everyone closer.

If team dinners are difficult, coaches can get creative. Set a social event for team and families only, go see a movie or host a monthly party at your home.

“We do our best to try to give coaches as much family time as possible,” Whittingham said.

2. Avoid long days

It might be tempting to work sunrise to sunset, especially during weeks when you’re preparing to face your biggest rival, but don’t give in. Science shows it doesn’t work.

Stanford University conducted a study in 2015 that showed productivity dramatically declined after 50 hours a week. Long hours lead to sleep deprivation, which further reduces your ability to work. You can put in 12-hour days studying film and meeting with coaches, but if you’re spinning your wheels, there’s no point.

Limit your hours to no more than 50 each week, and spend the extra time with your family. You’ll find yourself recharged, productive and efficient when you return to the field or film room the next day.

3. Make the offseason count

A football coach’s offseason to-do list is long — re-evaluate the program, implement new schemes, hire assistants, manage team workouts. But this is also the best time to unplug and escape it all with your family.

All coaches should set aside, at minimum, one week for a family vacation. Don’t talk about work, and don’t accept calls from your fellow coaches during this time — it’s all about your family. This is critical because the season can be so hectic, which might have forced you to miss some family functions, school plays and dinners. This is your opportunity to recharge and show your family that it comes first.

Coaching is a demanding profession, but with some determination and creativity, everyone can strike a healthy balance between the gridiron and quality time with their families.