Balancing The Game: Navigating Coach Wellness and Board Support During Heavy Competition

Courtesy of Matt Bos from Your Sports Resource, a SwimSwam partner.

During a heavy competition season, the priorities of coaches can come under heavy scrutiny from their board and often time from themselves. Balancing the demands of competition and the preparation of athletes can be challenging, leading to potential conflicts and misaligned priorities. During heavy competition, such as we are currently in, it is crucial for coaches to re-evaluate their priorities and focus on what truly matters: the preparation and welfare of their athletes and themselves. It is important for coaches to recognize and place emphasis on self-care and for boards to understand what the coaches are going through and help pick up slack during these stressful stretches of time.

We all know that coach burnout happens way too often not only affecting the individual, but the organization as well as the athletes. Boards can play a critical role in supporting coaches to prevent burnout, ensuring they can continue to effectively lead and mentor young athletes.

The demands of coaching are high, especially during long stretches of competition, and it is easy for a coach to become overwhelmed not only with preparing athletes but all the other administrative work that comes along with their jobs.  Boards can help coaches avoid burnout throughout the year by implementing strategies that promote work-life balance, provide resources for personal and professional development, foster a positive team culture, and offer support and recognition for their efforts.

One big way that your board can help coaches manage the grid of their season is by setting realistic expectations for coaches’ time commitments and ensuring they have adequate time off to rest and recharge during long stretches of competition. This means having a plan in place during certain parts of the season to help the coaches with communication, planning, apparel, and other duties that members of your board or committees can easily pick up. It’s also a great time of the year to let some responsibilities drop. When time is tight, multiple weeks of 7 days, the staff and board should support each other in prioritizing what work stays the plate and what doesn’t.

Now I know that this sounds a lot easier than it may be as the coaches themselves are sometimes reluctant to give up certain responsibilities to others, particularly, their board. Coaches you are ultimately responsible for your overall health and well-being and just like you try to teach your athletes it comes down to prioritizing what is important and acting on it. During your championship season, you want your athletes to be at their best which often means you need to be at your best. Re-thinking your own priorities can help you maintain perspective during the intense pressure of competition. It can be easy to get stuck in the mindset that you are the only one who can do certain tasks, but it is important to remember that you are there for the athletes and your well-being is more important to your longevity in the sport that giving up some meaningless tasks. By focusing on the process of teamwork, rather than control, your board can help you and your athletes enjoy the experience more and avoid the negative impacts of becoming burned out.

The journey towards a balanced and successful competition season is a shared responsibility between coaches and their boards. While boards play a crucial role in supporting and alleviating the pressures faced by coaches, it is equally important for coaches to take proactive steps in managing their workload and prioritizing their well-being. Coaches must recognize the significance of delegating tasks, setting realistic goals, and taking time for self-care to prevent burnout. By working collaboratively, coaches and boards can create a sustainable environment that not only prioritizes the athletes’ development but also ensures the long-term health and effectiveness of the coaches. This mutual effort is key to fostering a positive team culture and achieving excellence in the sporting arena, benefiting everyone involved in the process. By promoting work-life balance, providing more resources during heavy competition, fostering a positive team culture, offering support and recognition, and helping coaches manage their workload, boards can ensure that coaches remain motivated and engaged in their roles, ultimately benefiting the athletes under their care.


Interested in Board Training? Unlock the full potential of your swim club’s leadership with our comprehensive webinar, “Effective Board Leadership.” Tailored for board members and club leaders, this session dives deep into the legal, operational, and collaborative aspects of running a successful swim club. Find out more here.

Your Sports Resource serves USA Swimming clubs and university swim programs to maximize their operations. Our range of services include strategic planning, shifting old mindsets, creating effective structures, and working with both coaches and key stakeholders to ensure collaboration and beneficial relationships are established.

About Matt Bos

Matt Bos, a seasoned swimming coach with experience at both the club and collegiate level, is a valued consultant at Your Sports Resource (YSR). As an end-to-end partner, YSR is dedicated to supporting clubs and ensuring positive operational outcomes. With a shared passion for the success of clubs, YSR collaborates closely with their clients to provide comprehensive assistance and guidance.

You can find more information at Your Sports Resource.

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