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Burnout is NOT a job requirement for being a coach. You can and deserve to enjoy your work as a coach and prioritize your own health before your clients’. Instead of sliding into unhealthy work habits, I challenge you to be proactive about burnout. By educating yourself on recognition and prevention strategies for coaching burnout, you can be a healthier, happier, and better coach. It is a win-win situation.
There are 4 Coaching Personalities that are at a higher risk for burnout. Take a look at the following descriptions, and see if you recognize yourself. If any of these 4 descriptions sound like you, then it is even more essential for you to be proactive about burnout.
4 High Risk Coaching Personalities for Burnout
More than obviously, helpers come into the coaching field to help others. This is a truly unique and wonderful quality in the health and fitness industry. Helpers are at a high risk for burnout because they often attach their own worth to their clients’ success and deeply empathize with their clients. So, if a client is feeling pain or frustration, helpers will feel pain and frustration. In some cases, helpers may even view self-care as negative because it takes time and energy away from helping others.
This personality trait often comes from a very experienced sports or tactical background. Although times are changing, there is still a stigma in many sports and tactical cultures that self-care is a sign of weakness and not to be taken seriously. Warriors put great value on perfection of craft, but little value on anything second-best.
Go-getters give 110% effort and nothing less because they are motivated by a deep passion for their field. Passion is wonderful and sometimes even undervalued, but burnout can diffuse passion, so it is very important for go-getters to be educated on preventative measures. Taking a break and recognizing fatigue are difficult abilities for go-getters to master.
- Role Model:
Being an average coach simply doesn’t cut it for role models. They hold themselves to a very high standard in order to set a good example for their clients. The burnout warning signs here may be increased negative self-talk due to self-inflicted pressure and ignoring clear signs of fatigue.
Whether you recognize yourself in one of the coaching personalities above or not, it is important to know the signs of coaching burnout, so you can recognize them and be proactive. It is important to note that burnout goes beyond your body’s typical fight-or-flight response to stress. Below are a list of emotional, physical, and behavioral symptoms that may occur in individuals suffering from coaching burnout.
Signs of Coaching Burnout:
- Helpless & Defeated
- Tired & Fatigued
- Trouble Sleeping
- Overwhelmed & Trapped
- Negative Coping Mechanisms
- Heart Palpitations & Racing Heart
- Indifference & Hopeless
- Constant Aches & Pains
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Decreased appetite or food cravings
- Irritation & Frustration
- Frequent & Prolonged Sickness
- Poor Memory
- Digestive Issues
- Worry & Anxiety
- Disconnected & Feeling Alone
- Procrastination & Difficulty Prioritizing
- Headache & Migraines
- Avoiding Friends & Family
- Hair Loss
- Jaw Tension & Teeth Grinding
As an athletic trainer, I have always been a great advocate of prevention as opposed to rehabilitation. The same rule applies here. Instead of just recognizing the signs and symptoms of coaching burnout after it is already occurring, be proactive about preventing it in the first place. Here are 8 simple preventative strategies to help you build resilience against coaching burnout.
8 Coaching Burnout Prevention Strategies:
- Develop a Growth Mindset
- Foster curiosity
- See opportunity in failure and use it as feedback
- Know that problems inspire creative solutions
- Focus on Controllables
- Recognize uncontrollable outcomes (ex.: lose 5lbs in 2 weeks)
- Actively focus your own attention on controllable behaviors (ex.: drink 10 cups of water per day)
- Highlight controllable behaviors to your clients to reinforce focus
- Know Your Responsibilities
- Support your clients’ health needs
- Do NOT take responsibility of your clients’ pain and other problems
- Rest and Digest
- Routinely participate in healthy, repetitive movement such as running or rolling.
- Practice long and slow breathing to activate your parasympathetic nervous system or rest and digest system
- Schedule activities that provide peace and calm
- Practice Body Awareness
- Respect your body by listening to it
- Actively respond to what your body tells you
- Utilize mind-body scans or meditation to promote better awareness
- Prepare for Disaster
- Be aware of the possibility of obstacles in your daily work
- Make a plan for highly anticipated obstacles and alternative solutions
- Write Your Own Story
- Adopt a flexible perspective of your own story
- Know that you have the ability to adapt and change whenever you wish
- Self-care improves your care for others
- Build a Team
- Surround yourself with people who are trustworthy resources
- Do NOT isolate yourself
- Delegate and ask for help
Now you have the knowledge to explore your current burnout status. Be honest and kind to yourself, and use this information as a toolbox to help build resilience as a coach. Break the cycle, and take burnout off the job requirement list. Good luck!