Managing Coach Wellbeing

Thursday, August 06, 2015

By Cameron Black
Umpiring Development Coordinator
AFL Canberra

We are on the verge of the pointy end of the season, the season where all the hard yards we’ve put into coaching, developing umpires and watching countless hours of football is drawing to a close. Putting finals dates in the calendar along with presentations it would seem the season, albeit winding down, has just got busier than before, all while trying to solve selection headaches and on volunteer time.

Umpire coaches are remarkably dedicated people who are in it for the love of the game and fundamentally enjoy developing people. So at a time, when we try to manage the frenetic workload of umpire responsibilities whilst maintaining full time employment, we need to ensure that our coaches manage their wellbeing and time commitment to the role. Burnout in August and September can be all too common and our performance suffers from it.

Are you managing the wellbeing of coaches that you manage? What do you do to manage your own wellbeing?

Support systems – What coaching support systems are in place to manage observation and performance? It is near on impossible with limited resources for all coaches to match day coach every single game of football during the finals series. Does the coaching panel build capacity of the next generation of coaches by engaging them in match day coaching responsibilities? With support and guidance, this can be an excellent coach recruitment tool.

Spread the load – How effective are we as coaches in our 10th, 11th and 12th quarter of football? Do our umpires get the best out of us when we are fatigued and do we view the game in the same way? Ensuring coverage of coaches at grounds is important, be kind to yourself and your team. Find ways to ensure you encapsulate umpire performance without draining yourself and your team.

Feedback – By far and away this can be one of the most challenge aspects of finals, providing real feedback to umpires while potentially managing disappointment. Stress reducing conversations for the umpire in these situations is vital. Moving an umpire from a state of disappointment is an art form and to do this we must listen, empathise and communicate with understanding. The flow on effect is that you will build credibility with the umpire and your group. Hiding behind generic coaching statements and one liners wont shift the umpire from a state of disappointment. Communicating honestly, while giving them the platform for improvement will build a greater level of respect between umpire and coach.

Nutrition and Stretching – Match day coaching can be quite sedentary and our diet can slip over finals time. Ensuring a balanced diet and hydration will assist with keeping your brain active. While the easy choice can be the club canteen, a prepared sandwich with lean meats will aide in personal performance. Finals is where running coaches really suffer in terms of physical fitness, incorporating a routine of stretching is invaluable to ensure you can manage yourself and cope with the demands of watching quarter after quarter.

It is an exciting time however we walk a delicate tightrope on maintaining a balance between your family, your profession and umpire coach commitments. Umpire coaching can be all too consuming if we allow it to be and this will detract your performance.

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