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School’s Out…Now Take a Breath

By Michael Austin, Editor-In-Chief

I live just behind the high school in my town and today was the last day of school with an early dismissal at 11 a.m. Of course, I didn’t need to read the marquee in front of the school to figure out what was going on. At 11 a.m. the joyous sounds of students pouring out of the high school for the last time this year couldn’t be masked. The parking lot had a post-concert feel as cars jockeyed for position with everyone wanting to get on the main road to put another year in the rearview mirror.

For coaches, it has to be a happy time too. You’ve survived another year of long hours, little pay and varying levels of respect (and that’s just from the parents). While your instinct is to utilize this “free” time to improve your squad, consider stepping back for a bit and concentrating on your family. Too often, our wives, husbands and children take a backseat to the rigors of the current sports season. I do the same thing with my job—after my 2-year-old wakes me up entirely too early everyday, I immediately grab my smartphone to see what “critical” emails came into my inbox in the middle of the night. For some reason, we just can’t stop working these days.

Coaches know this all too well. You’re looking to improve your game plan in the off-season. You are checking on players’ final grades. You need to make some new hires. You are attending coaching clinics. You are trying to figure out how to take the lessons from last year and learn from them for the upcoming season.

While most coaches point to the summer “dead period” in their states as the time to get away from the job, now is the perfect opportunity to step back. School just let out. Your athletes need a mental break from the rigors of school life. Grant them that. It can be a week, 10 days, a couple weeks…but give everyone, including yourself, an opportunity to relax, recharge and come back to the program refocused.

Finally, use this time to think about ways to be a better parent or spouse moving forward. When I interviewed Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops last year for the August issue of Coach And Athletic Director, he said he eats breakfast with his children every morning. This year’s upcoming August profile, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, says after a year away from the game, he understands you don’t have to live in your office to be an effective coach.

Do you players, spouse and family a favor—step back and prioritize now that you have the time. You’ll be a better coach because of it.

What are your thoughts? Do you take a step back at this time in the year? Or, are things too competitive in your league, conference, sport, etc., that even taking a week or two off sets you too far back? Share your thoughts below.

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