Some Ideas to Balance Coaching and Family

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Any dedicated coach struggles with balancing the demands of coaching with family responsibilities.  Running a football program with 150-250 players and 10-20 adult coaches is a full-time job, especially when you add on managing a booster club and connecting with youth teams.  Even the off season requires giving up Saturdays and evenings, which is time away from your children and wife.
  • As I travel across the country it amazes me the disparity in different states at how football coaches are treated.
    • Some states only ask the coach to teach the wt training classes to the players and put all the players in the same period at the end of the day, so that football practice can start at 2pm and end before 5pm.
    • Other states refuse to put the football players in wt training because “every kid is going to college” and every student needs 2 years of spanish, 4 years of math, and 3 years of science.  So this forces the coach to supervise off season workouts at either 6am or after school.  This essentially means the football coach is supervising “practice” year round, even though his stipend is from Aug 1 to Dec 1.
    • Some states have laws that every coach has to work for the school district.  This makes scheduling of meetings & practice so much easier as everyone has the same schedule.
    • It is very common in CA that the HC is the only on-campus coach, so everything has to be scheduled around work schedules of coaches who have non-educational jobs, such as police and firemen.
  • At the high school level it is becoming more and more difficult because most school systems view the football coach as a classroom teacher FIRST and a coach SECOND.  
    • So the football coach in CA will teach 5-6 periods of science, math, history, which entails lesson planning, grading, and monitoring 200-250 students.
    • This TEACHER is required to also attend staff & department meetings.  So fundraisers, weights, booster meetings, coaching meetings are pushed to Saturdays and evenings.
    • I did this at Porterville:  I had 220 football players and 200 biology students to tend to.  Weights was before school, so my off-season work day was 6:30am to 3:30pm.
  • In California, the HS football coach is treated the same as the girls golf coach, despite having 150-250 football players under your watch while the golf coach has 5-8 golfers.  

So I get asked all the time about how to juggle family, teaching, and coaching.  Not only do I not have an answer, but I am TERRIBLE at it.  The reason I left Porterville after building something that was so special was due to marital problems that were caused by the time necessary to manage such a  large program.

I have put a couple of articles on the subject below but here are some SUGGESTIONS for the high school football coach:


  • When the season is over, SHUT ‘ER DOWN for awhile and really focus on the wife & kids.  Get the equipment inventoried, meet with every coach, and schedule the awards banquet….and then
    • NO FOOTBALL over winter break or in January.  Spend your evenings watching TV with the wife, help the kids with homework, and take some trips on the weekend.
  • Schedule one Saturday evening per month that all the coaches and wives have dinner together.  You can talk general football (like the superbowl)…but no strategies or schemes.  This is about the wives.
  • Schedule another Saturday evening just for you and YOUR wife.  Put it in your planner.  No cell phone, no twitter, no texting.  It’s called a DATE NIGHT.
  • Limit the off season clinics.  Find the one clinic that has the speakers you want to hear and go to THAT clinic.  Period.
  • Coaches meetings are 1 night per week, same time, same night.  And set a rule when the meeting ends.  Make it very clear that we are not going to stand in parking lot and continue talking.
    • We go every Monday.  Offense and Defense switch off Mondays.


  • Find one big fundraiser to do every other month.  You can kill yourself with carwashes and candle sales that eat up alot of time, but make no money.
    • Jan=cookie dough ($2,500);  Mar=Drive thru dinner ($5,000);  May=Golf Tourney ($5,000); July=Fireworks ($10,000); Aug=Gold Cards ($10,000);  Aug=kickoff dinner ($5,000)
    • Ad Sales go throughout the off season.  Ads for gold cards, poster, game program, and website.
  • DELEGATE!  Assign one parent from booster club and one coach to be in charge of one thing….
    • Seven fundraisers are assigned seven coaches and seven booster parents.
    • Another coach and parent is in charge of all summer 7on7 and camps (entry, food, transportation, lodging)


  • Regardless of our state rules, our program shuts down the week of July 4th and the last two weeks in July.  Schedule family vacations during this time.
  • We do offense only practice on Monday nights and defense only practices on Tuesday nights.  That way coaches only give up one night.
  • We rotate weight room supervision, so 2 coaches have to show up.  So on a staff of 16 coaches, a coach would only show up for weight room once every 2 weeks.
  • Don’t go to a 7on7 every single Saturday !!!  If you need alot of throwing, invite a team to your school on a Wed night.  That is way better than asking coaches to give up Saturdays.

IN SEASON Program Building

During the season here are a couple of ideas

  • Saturday coaching meetings start promptly at 8am and end at 2pm.  Only spend time on the opponent and personnel
    • Every coach HUDL columns assigned to them so we can have 3 games broken down in less than 2 hours.
    • We bring in our QB and Linebacker to break down our film.  They only stay from 8am to 10am, then I buy them breakfast and take them home
    • All notes and grading of our film is left up to the assistants to do at home when it is convenient for them.
  • Continue the once per month, Saturday coaches wives dinner
  • Late practice on Wednesday.  Allows coaches some time in afternoon to do “honey do’s” or take their kids out for ice cream.
  • Thursday run throughs before school, so everyone has Thursday night off to spend with family.



Here is an article that was printed in the South Carolina “The State” newspaper.  It as reprinted on FootballScoop By  on November 28, 2014.  Unfortunately the entire article is no longer available.

“Back in 2005 Blake Anderson had to make a life altering decision, according a recent piece in The State; continue in the coaching profession and watch his marriage and family life crumble, or walk away from coaching and focus on his life off the field.

It’s a decision that hundreds of coaching face every year.

Anderson walked into the football offices at Middle Tennessee State the morning after being confronted with that decision and submitted his resignation, walking away from life as a college football coach.

“That moment in my life, at my worst, has really allowed me to grow and become better to the people around me. I care more about taking care of them than I do taking care of me. They don’t work for me; we work together.” the first year Arkansas State head coach explained.

After resigning at MTSU, Anderson spent the next two seasons away from coaching altogether, selling insurance for his father’s business in Texas and reconnecting with his wife, daughter, and two sons. It was those two years away from football that transformed his approach to coaching.

When the 2007 season rolled around, Anderson got back into coaching at Louisiana-Lafayette with the blessing of his family and the promise that he wouldn’t go back to his old coaching ways. This time around there would be a healthy balance of football, family and faith.

Back in December of 2013, Anderson was announced as the fifth head coach in five seasons at Arkansas State. it marked his first opportunity to run his own program, and his approach to running the entire program reflects the changes he vowed to make.

For example, The State points out that staff meetings don’t start until 8:15 so that his assistants can take their kids to school. Assistants get over 5 weeks of vacation during the summer, and are not allowed to work weekends during the spring. Also among the changes are two days a week (Wednesdays and Thursdays) when coaches leave the facility as soon as the final whistle blows at practice.

In Jonesboro, Anderson is doing things his way, but really had to face some harsh realities before being given the chance to run his own program, his way.

“If it means we don’t get it done, and they fire me, then you know what, then my way didn’t work this time.” he explained.

“It doesn’t mean it won’t work somewhere else. To me, it’s worth the risk.”


Here is another article on the UCONN football website.


Balancing Home And Work – Lessons From A Coach And His Family

Head Football Coach, Randy Edsall

STORRS, Conn. (December 7) — Much has been written about the stresses of balancing work and family, but for one Connecticut family, that’s an especially difficult challenge. From August through February, they share a husband and dad with 98 other men.UConn football coach Randy Edsall and his wife, Eileen, have been managing this balancing act for over 18 years and both seem comfortable making it work. “I knew from the beginning what I signed on for,” says Eileen, a 41-year-old former college student-athlete who met Randy when both were at Syracuse University. “You know when you marry a coach that you’ll have to be independent and that you’ll have a lot of time to yourself. But it’s all we’ve ever known, so it doesn’t seem unusual to us. All of us in the family understand the commitment it takes. We understand that his job is particularly demanding in terms of time and flexibility. Any relationship is give and take, but our family has to do more than the average one to work around his schedule during the season.”

For Coach Edsall, the season starts in August when the freshman players come in for their first practice. Between then and the end of February (when recruiting ends) he often puts in seven-day weeks. Between September and mid-November, those weeks can also include sleeping in the office on Saturday nights so he can be there when the tapes of Saturday’s game arrive early Sunday morning. “If we’ve got an away game, by the time we get home it’s 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. and the tapes come in around 6:00 a.m.,” he says. “I need to go over them and plan for the next week. If I don’t, I’m behind. So staying in the office Saturday night is the sensible thing to do for the job.”

Of course the downside of that job decision is that he often doesn’t see his ten-year-old daughter, Alexi, and eight-year-old son, Corey, from Friday night until after a Monday night radio show. “I do feel like a single parent during the season, ” Eileen says. “But, now that they aren’t playing weekly games, the hours aren’t quite as extensive.”

“The biggest downer of this job is that I have missed some of my kids’ growing up,” says Randy. “As a coach, there’s a frustration that sometimes you aren’t able give your children what you give to other people’s kids.”

How do Randy and Eileen stay close and keep Randy as a part of the children’s lives, especially during the height of the season? They work at it. “We both have our priorities straight,” says Randy. “When I’m not working, I’m taking every minute to be with my family. We purposely don’t maintain a heavy social schedule so that any free time we have can be spent together.”

The Edsalls offer some suggestions to any families trying their best to maintain a busy life and keep their lives together:

Have realistic expectations. Know what is and is not flexible in the other’s work life. “Any relationship is give and take, so make sure you understand what that involves and can live with it as it stands,” advises Eileen.

Be flexible and work together to make things work. “You’ve got to be willing to be flexible and work together to deal with situations that come up. You have to be understanding about the things your spouse can’t control,” points out Eileen.

Make important decisions together. Just because one spouse is more involved with the home, doesn’t mean that the other should be shut off from important personal decisions. “It’s easy to say ‘I’m in charge at home because I’m here more often.’ But, it’s a bad idea. You can’t take away the decision-making process at home or you grow apart and the other person feels disconnected from the household,” says Eileen.

Use technology to stay close. While some people complain that mobile phones and pagers rob them of privacy, busy families can use them as tools in their personal lives. “The mobile phone’s the best thing that’s happened to our family,” says Randy. “My 10-year-old knows my mobile phone number and calls me as soon as something exciting happens in her life. For people like me who spend a lot of time on the road, it also simplifies life. It means your family doesn’t have to keep track of multitudes of hotel numbers.”

“We live on the phone,” says Eileen. “We talk on the phone a couple of times a day and make sure to inform each other of decisions we make. Our communication is good because we make it a point to share as much as we can, even if it’s not face-to-face.”

Stay ahead of the game. Do what you can at the office to maximize the time you spend at home. “Don’t lose track of the fact that your family is your first priority,” says Randy. “Do what you can to get things done in the office to free up some time at home. For me, it’s doing things like bringing game tapes home. Then, I can work on them there which allows me to spend time with the kids before they go to bed and look in on them when they are asleep. I make it a point in terms of planning to do things like that.”

Understand that younger children may “act out.” While adults can be flexible about long periods away from each other, Eileen cautions that younger children sometimes use their actions to tell you they are not happy about it. “When Corey was younger that was a problem,” she remembers. “Randy would be home all summer and Corey got used to spending time with him. When Randy would go back to work at the end of the summer, Corey would misbehave. Now that’s he’s older, he’s better able to handle it, but back then he didn’t understand. Parents have to know that those are the times when children need some extra support and to be prepared for it. It passes as they age.”

Don’t bring work stresses home with you. A clean mental break between home and work is critical to making any relationship work. “You’ve got to keep the job at the job,” says Eileen. “That’s hard to do when you’re involved in something that’s personally involving, like coaching. But, Randy’s been coaching for 20 years and, like any experienced professional, he’s learned to deal with his share of disappointing losses. The key is keeping them in perspective and not taking them out on your family.”

“This season was a tough one,” points out Randy. “But, I’ve been through this before and I know the ups and downs of establishing a young team. As the process goes forward, I know from experience that I have to keep my perspective. I keep the job in the office. I don’t come home and be nasty towards my family because things didn’t work on a Saturday afternoon.”

He says his children do a terrific job helping him keep things in perspective. “You see your kids and you forget what happened,” he says. “They still love you no matter what happens on Saturday. We’ve seen others in this profession who are so intense that they get their kids all up-tight about the games. That doesn’t do anyone any good.”

Avoid taking yourself too seriously. Professionals are used to people calling on them at work for all the answers, but that’s not how it works at home. While the players on his team may look to Coach Edsall for answers on the field, he knows that’s where that attitude belongs. “I’m not a know-it-all and I don’t have all the answers,” he says. ” I keep things in perspective. I’m still the same person whether the team wins or loses Eileen and I have been around athletics long enough to understand that.”

Avoid becoming a work-a-holic. With an all-absorbing job, it’s easy to work all the time and forget to do anything else. “A lot of people miss the boat on this one,” he says. “They work 365 days a year and lose their families in the process. Coaches are as guilty of this as any other high-stress profession. When there’s time available, I’ll drop everything and do something with the family. This season, for example, we had a week off during October. I made sure not to take those as work days. I put all my focus and attention on my family.”

Bring the lessons of the job home to your children. The lessons that come from engaging in an all-encompassing profession can be valuable to children. “Randy really loves what he does and I think that sends a strong message to our kids that you should do what you love and find some way to make a living at it,” says Eileen. “His work ethic also teaches them the lesson that hard work and patience can make good things happen. Those are two important lessons for them to learn.”

Asked to give some final words of guidance to families trying to balance home and work, the Edsalls give these suggestions:

From Randy: “Be organized and well-prepared and you can balance all aspects of your life.”

From Eileen: “Never take each other for granted.”

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About Me

Coach Stewart has coached football for 27 years, winning championships with 6th graders, 8th graders, high school freshman, and high school varsity. He coached 9 years at the youth and freshman level, always serving as head coach. After completing his college at age of 28 he has coached 21 years at the varsity level, 13 as the varsity head coach.

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