A guest post by Brad Nein Ed.D.
Work-Family Conflict within the profession of coaching has become a significant issue for coaches applying their trade at the youth, high school, and collegiate levels. Results of recently performed research has demonstrated that individual characteristics including gender, relationship status, family status, primary coaching role, coaching status, and hours worked per week play a prominent role in determining the level of well-being within the personal and professional life of the coach (Nein, 2016).
Qualified male and female athletic coaches are leaving the coaching profession or not entering the profession at all due in part to the negative consequences associated with work-family conflict (Bruening & Dixon, 2007). Coaches have many demands and expectations placed upon them in and out of season that often do not include consideration for personal life and family responsibilities. The expectations for coaches have changed in recent years to involve increased professional commitment to a level where excessive work hours are necessary in order to provide a competitive and successful program. The effect this type of obsession promotes in increasing work-family conflict can have devastating results on personal and professional satisfaction (Greenhaus, Collins, & Shaw, 2003).
Current coaches and the next generation of coaches must have a better understanding of how to plan for and create work-family harmony. Well thought out plans based upon good communication, defined responsibilities, and the ability to enhance time management skills will put coaches on a path to increased satisfaction within all aspects of their life (Inglis, Danylchuk, & Pastore, 1996).
Work-life conflict for coaches is a common trend for all levels of coaches. In order to live a life of greater satisfaction, follow these three strategies for increased balance between work and life.
Strategy 1: Intentionally focus on strategies that limit work-life conflict.
- Communicate schedules, priorities, and future goals with your significant other and colleagues to better coordinate, understand, connect, and organize life in a functional manner.
- Efficiently work to complete the most important tasks at hand by prioritizing daily responsibilities and beginning the day prepared with the knowledge of what has to be accomplished during the work-day.
- Organize training sessions to prioritize what is important for the athletes to learn and efficiently move through these ideas to decrease practice time. As the season moves along and fewer concepts need to be introduced to the athletes, training times can be shortened.
Strategy 2: Establish professional boundaries between work and personal life.
- Schedule hobbies, family events, and personal activities within an itinerary just like office hours and work activities. Pursuing pleasurable activities away from work allows coaches to have higher levels of vigor and lower levels of fatigue upon returning to the job situation (Van Hoof, Geurts, Beckers, & Kompier, 2011).
- Establish work hours away from the office that are realistic in order to accomplish both personal life activities and work tasks.
- Personal health must remain a priority throughout the year by ensuring a consistent healthy diet and work-out regimen even at the busiest times.
- When interviewing, look for organizational policy that focuses on positive family interaction such as time-flexible work policies, maternity/paternity leave, on-site childcare, health insurance benefits, and spousal hiring programs.
Strategy 3: Develop a relationship with a mentor that has successfully created harmony between work pursuits and life activities.
- The social support that a mentor can provide will assist with maintaining balance and keeping healthy boundaries.
- Each person communicates about successes and difficulties to create learning opportunities of working towards a balanced life.
- Support from mentors and supervisors has been found to be an important factor in facilitating work-family balance (Mazzerolle & Goodman, 2013).
Unfortunately, work-family conflict at some point will affect all athletic coaches. Having an increased understanding of the strategies to use to work towards success will allow for a professional and personal life with increased work-life harmony.
Bruening, J. E., & Dixon, M. A. (2007). Work-family conflict in coaching II: Managing role conflict.
Journal of Sport Management, 21, 471-496.
Greenhaus, J. H., Collins, K., M., & Shaw, J. D. (2003). The relation between work-family balance
and quality of life. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 63, 510-531.
Inglis, S., Danylchuk, K. E., & Pastore, D. (1996). Understanding retention factors in coaching
and athletic management positions. Journal of Sport Management, 10, 237-249.
Mazzerolle, S. M., & Goodman, A. (2013). Fulfillment of work-life balance from the
organizational perspective: A case study. Journal of Athletic Training, 48(5), 513-522.
Nein, B. (2016). Work-family conflict among youth, high school, and collegiate soccer coaches.
(Unpublished doctoral dissertation). United States Sports Academy, Daphne, AL.
Van Hoof, M. L. M., Geurts, S. A. E., Beckers, D. G. J., & Kompier, M. A. J. (2011). Daily recovery
from work: The role of activities, effort and pleasure. Work & Stress, 25(1), 55-74.
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