How to Get through the Hardest Seasons

“This season is sucking the life out of us.”

“I don’t know how much more we can take.”

“I don’t even know what to say anymore.”

Recently these sentiments have crossed my private messages, and I’ve found myself passing along the same advice a few times. It seems that for one reason or another, some seasons are particularly exhausting for coaching families. When the rough patches arrive, it’s important to know how to get through the hardest seasons.

Those that have winning records are still dealing with parents who are angry over playing time or have coaches on staff causing chaos. Teams with losing records are just downright exhausted, and this has left many coaches’ wives feeling the tension in the stands and at home.

Football is often all-consuming for a family simply because of the long hours coaches put in between practice, film, weight room, and team building. This doesn’t even include the requirements of a high school or middle school coach’s teaching job, which usually makes up the majority of his salary.

It’s important to remember that just because something takes up a lot of calendar time does not mean it has to consume every aspect of your life. Hard football seasons do not need to be life crisis seasons.

Life is About More than Football

It may not feel like it during the season, but your husband is more than a football coach. When the season is hard and things require you all to dig a little deeper and give a little more, it’s important to remember that there WILL be an end to the madness. You will get your weekends back, if only for a little while. You will have a reprieve from football practices and the critical fans in the stands who can’t understand that the play on the field that was poorly executed was likely not supposed to go that way. And while watching film doesn’t seem to ever end, the need to break down film in the middle of the night will also stop in a few weeks.

Try to create time and space for things other than football:

  • Try to create space to talk about things other than football during the day. As if something funny happened in class or talk about a podcast you listened to that day.
  • Find a show to watch on Netflix together or take a walk and enjoy being outside away from an athletic field.
  • Consider planning a weekend away to decompress after the season and talk about the fun things you will do when you are away.
  • Save up some spending money and invest in a hobby other than football. Does your husband like to hunt? Send him on a guys trip. Does he collect something? Create space for him to add to the collection and time to go find a new piece. Does he like to build things? Find a new item you need him to create.
  • Find time for him to spend with your kids. Head to the park or go swimming.
  • Remind him that he is more than a Coach and every part is important.

Make Time for Church

The easiest thing to give up when life is hard is church. It’s easy to convince yourself that Sunday mornings sleeping is better than going to church where you have to face people asking questions about Friday night’s loss. But in reality, you will all feel better when you take time to stop wallowing and focus on God.

Does your church offer small groups? Are they at a time when you can attend? If you can, make this a priority. It’s worth it to be around people who will help you focus on God rather than football as much as possible. If your church is like ours and the times don’t align, consider seeking out an FCA Chaplin. You may be able to meet over a lunch hour or after practice.

Remember Your Why

“People don’t buy “what” you do, they buy “why” you do it” – Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is famous in the marketing world for encouraging people to “start with why.” While his original premise was about helping people understand that they have to believe in the greater purpose behind the mission of a company, the reality is that the same applies internally.

We need to have a larger purpose behind why we are doing something, or we are unlikely to stick with it when things get hard. If coaching is about wins and losses, it’s not going to stick.

If football is about influencing the next generation, you start to see a greater why. When coaching includes teaching principles of life such as how to dig deeper and band together when things are hard or how to communicate as a team, step up and be a servant leader, and model integrity even under pressure then it’s likely to keep everyone focused on the bigger picture.

Extend Grace to Each Other

While nothing will make a tough season “easy” a shift in perspective can make it something you can endure. The great thing about sports is that at the end of every season, the record resets. Hopefully, the team will be motivated to work harder in the off-season. But not before you get some well-deserved rest and quality time as a family first.

In the meantime, remember you guys are the Hometeam, and regardless of what’s happening on the field and at practice, it doesn’t need to affect what happens in your home. Choose to speak with kinder words to each other. Choose to give each other space when you need it, and find ways to laugh together.

Understand that there will still be hard days. Choose to love each other through them. For better or worse wasn’t added in wedding vows by a former coach that I know of, but that commitment certainly applies in this situation!

We all have hard seasons in our careers. Some are more public than others. In the long run, even the most public and powerful jobs are just that, jobs. So hang in there and remember, the record book will reset in a few weeks.

Lessons from the Sidelines front cover final

As the wife of a football coach, Beth Walker encourages women whose families are in the public eye to pursue their own callings even as they support their husbands’ careers and ministries. Through her personal stories as well as interviews with other women who are also living just outside their husbands’ limelight, Beth shows it’s possible to do both.

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