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5 Times Coaches Have Considered a Career Change (and the reasons we keep coming back)

MNKCoaching is a passion. It is unlike any other profession. Coaching youth sports is its own animal. We have to interact with athletes, parents, officials, other coaches, and even the occasional grandparent! Coaching competitive gymnastics, well that takes animal to a whole new level: beast.

Gymnastics is a unique sport. There are limited high school opportunities, almost zero professional opportunities, and it takes countless hours of training week after week, year after year, to reach the pinnacle of an athlete’s career. As coaches, we thrive on the progress our athletes make. We prepare for hours each week creating “perfect” lesson plans. We arrive with an elevated level of energy to share with our athletes every day (whether we have mono or a sinus infection or didn’t sleep all night because our kids were sick). After a full week’s worth of planning, coaching, and motivating, we then spend 20-30 weekend hours at competition. And you thought that we were energetic at practice? Wait until meet day.

amaiyaOften it isn’t until Monday morning that our lives return to “normal”, that is, just in time to return to practice that evening and repeat the cycle. It is exhausting and fulfilling. Most days, it is worth it.

Except for the days it isn’t. The days we all think, maybe I need a career change. Maybe I should retire from competitive coaching. I could be a rec only coach, I could be a teacher, I could get a “real” job. There are certain triggers that make us feel this way, and eventually, they might actually push some coaches to acting on their feelings.

1. A Parent Thinks We Want Less Than the Best for Their Child.
Ouch. Talk about making someone want to cry. As coaches, we view our athletes as kids of our own. I get to say this because I have three of my own, and let me tell you, some days when I say “my kids” I have to correct myself back and forth (“I mean my biological kids” followed by “I mean my gym kids” and repeat). We want the best for every child that we coach. We dream about them, come up with new drills for them to try, we customize assignments based on strengths, weaknesses, and injury.

_STK48882. An Athlete Quits Before She Reaches Her True Potential.
We understand that athletes will retire from competitive gymnastics at some point in time. There is no professional league that we dream for them to compete in. And reaching their potential means something different for each athlete. However, there are athletes that we see growing at a rapid rate that then… boom. Without warning. The smiling, giggling girl at practice quits. Why? How? What? We are blindsided and it hurts.

3. An Athlete Fails.
Goals are a huge part of our sport. Helping our athletes reach their goals is one of the most motivating parts of coaching. So what happens when your athlete doesn’t meet her goal? Maybe there was a string of unforeseen and unpreventable injuries and you could see the goal fading into the distance. Or maybe we were caught off guard when she just didn’t hit at the meet. Whether we see it coming or it slaps us in the face, doubt creeps in.

4. Our Bio-Kids Fail.
We are gone a lot. We have weird hours so we are home a decent amount, too. But for school aged kiddos, meet season and a coaching mom, make the face time (no iPad included) slim. So when one of my biological children fails, I can’t help but blame myself. Was it my fault? Just as in the case of the athlete, unlikely. But I wonder… “what could I have done differently?”.   It can be throwing a fit over something trivial, getting in trouble at school, aggressive behavior; the question lingers, “is it because I am gone too much?”.

7F0A1549f4x65. We Are Exhausted.
Not a normal level of exhaustion. An “I don’t know if I will ever feel normal again” exhaustion. One that you can feel building in January and reaches it’s peak in April or May. One that causes physical illness, our own meltdowns, conflicts, tears, you name it.

But, alas, at the end of each of these feelings we circle back to “the reasons why”. We. Can’t. Quit.

We want the best for our athletes and we show it.
We leave a lasting mark of dedication, passion and work ethic whether our athletes stay until college or depart early.
We learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of our athletes.  Each season we coach we are better than the one before.
We are trying to be the best parents we can be: let’s face it, we love kids. And what better way to teach work ethic than to live it?
And let’s face it, sleep is overrated.

So as each season we have our trials and tribulations. We have successes to revel in and failures to learn from. We want to be better coaches. We want to show the “haters” our true passion. So cheers to the end of season (and maybe even a few more).

April 5, 2016 | Blog | 0

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