I think that one of the most surprising things about coaching people learn is that it takes a lot more than a love for the sport to have a successful career as a coach. It’s obvious from assumptions that coaches only work one day a week or a few weeks a year, that those who are unfamiliar with athletics don’t understand a coach’s job description. But former athletes are also often shocked to learn all that goes on behind the scenes to prepare for practice and games. The indication that someone is born to coach isn’t difficult to identify. The heart of a coach is that of a humble servant and teacher that loves athletics. It also requires dedication.
A few years ago, Ordell was experiencing mental and emotional burnout. At the height of the pandemic, coaching and teaching remotely allowed him the time and space to really step back and consider the “why” behind his coaching trajectory. It was clear he was ready to hang up his head coaching hat, even if it meant walking away from coaching completely. He was done climbing the coaching ranks and hanging on to a title that he never felt comfortable with from the first time he accepted the role.
He resigned from his coaching job the weekend we were moving into a new home in our community. Of course, our neighbors recognized him as the local head football coach and welcomed us kindly. Neither of us had the heart to correct them. I assumed they would eventually sort things out in the local newspaper. But before any of that occurred, our “new normal” switched once again when a job offer to become a defensive coordinator for a neighboring high school landed on the table a few days later. I was not surprised when a “yes” was followed by an “I mean, I need to talk to Beth.” The thing is, I was unsurprised by the offer to coach as well as the yes because Ordell is born to coach. It’s his natural instinct.
Most coaches spend 80% of their time doing things other than actually coaching. They are watching
Still, those that have long coaching careers are usually cut from a similar cloth. There are a few characteristics that stand out as indications your man is born to coach.
Here are 5 Indications Your Man is Born to Coach
They Love the Grind
This may not be a phrase you are familiar with, but if you’ve been around coaches long enough, you will understand what I mean. Even though it’s the middle of July, 100 degrees and 100% humidity when it’s time to coach, your man is up and out the door.
More than that, they are out there in the rain, snow, and freezing weather, too, because they understand that practice is a necessity. Coaches who are in the mix with their players sweating it out on the field and in the weight room are coaches who love the grind and born to coach.
They are Humble
The best coaches are constantly learning and growing. They are reviewing films and talking to other coaches to see if there are better ways to coach on a technical level, among many other things.
The Washington Post summarizes humility in leadership well: “True humility, scientists have learned, is when someone has an accurate assessment of both his strengths and weaknesses, and he sees all this in the context of the larger whole.”
If someone isn’t willing to consider they may have weaknesses, how can they better themselves? If they can’t improve themselves, how can their teams improve? Humility is key.
More Reading: Check out this article 10 Traits of Humble Leaders
They Understand it’s More than a Game
Billy Graham is often quoted as saying, “One coach will impact more young people in a year than the average person does in a lifetime.” The instinct is to consider the positive impact that a coach makes, but it’s important to remember this goes both ways.
Coaches who shame athletes, only value their on-field success and care little about the character of the team also impact people. But are those the people you want influencing the next generation?
A key indication that your man is born to coach is that they have a vision for how to use athletics to develop character in the players they coach. They understand that there are opportunities to teach discipline, finishing what you start, committing even when things are hard, teamwork, healthy communication, and leadership principles in addition to X’s and O’s, and they look for ways to make an impact in a positive way in their athlete’s lives.
They Value their Staff and Volunteers
Rarely does a coach work alone, whether they are partnering with boosters, athletic trainers, administrators, or other coaches. Coaches who are born to coach love to be part of a team.
Athletes will note how a coach treats those he works with, as will co-workers. Of course, the golden rule is a great one to live by, but it goes further in coaching. When a coach values those around him, he is investing in his future career potential as well.
They Can’t See Themselves Doing Anything Else
On paper, coaching is a ridiculous career choice. The hourly commitment breakdown for 99% of coaches is $1 or less earned per hour. The lack of gratitude, the physical exhaustion, the time away from family. And that doesn’t even take into account that coaches are fired with minimal notice.
“Anonymous” Monday morning quarterbacks online, waking up to For Sale signs helpfully placed in your front yard for you, and strangers informing your children that their father is horrible at his job are all reasons to avoid coaching at all cost and yet, thousands of men willingly subject themselves to this craziness for one reason. They were born to coach.
So, if you are reading this and realize you are married to a coach who’s likely in his career for the long haul, congratulations! This doesn’t mean your man will never consider any other job, but it’s likely the energy and joy he has around his job right now won’t automatically replicate itself in another career, so as long as coaching is an option.