10 Tips for Battling the Post Season Blues

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It’s a common thing at the end of any sports season: the post season blues.  Even, and maybe even especially, among coaches.

We get to the end of the season and we arrive at, as one colleague describes it, “the end of season jitters in their clubs…the nasty rumors about quitting or switching gyms.”

It’s rough. How do you, as a coach, handle it?

  1. Expect them.  Yes, by simply expecting that you might feel a little bleh at season’s end, at least you won’t be sucker punched when it happens. 
  2. Accept them.  If you put your whole self into you job, the highs are high, but then the lows are low.  Don’t be hard on yourself that you shouldn’t feel a little down if you in fact do.  They are just feelings and they will pass.  I promise.
  3. Keep perspective.  Our lizard brain is designed to look for the things that hurt us.  That prehistoric part of our brain served us very well when we were on the savanna trying to survive lions.  It serves us less well when we panic over emotional situations.  Breathe.  There are no lions.  I promise this too.
  4. Engage in some self-care. Take a break. If possible take a couple days of and spend some time with your family. And because that is seldom possible (let’s be realistic) at least get a massage, go for a run, read a book, see a movie or enjoy a good meal.
  5. Mark the end.  Have a glass of wine to toast the end of a season.  Or a pizza party with the kids.     Or something that marks the conclusion of the season.  Send notes of gratitude to your fellow coaches, office staff or team parents who made the season easier or more pleasant for you.  Gratitude is one of the best ways to lift the blues.
  6. Tackle the topic of retiring directly.  If a gymnast decides to end her career at the end of season, this isn’t quitting, it is ending or retiring.  Quitting is giving up in the middle of something and has a yucky connotation.  Ending is deciding the current situation is no longer serving you and that it is time to move on to another phase of life.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  Try to meet with and discuss with those kids (as is age appropriate).  You might suggest they take two weeks off and then come back for a month before they make their final decision.  If they really are done, talk with them about what their new option might be and if gymnastics has any place in their life. 
  7. Let go of those who seek greener pastures.  Families might choose to move onto a different club after the season.  The reasons families make that choice are varied and complicated and sometimes have very little to do with you, but rather is about their needs and goals.  These partings can be deeply painful, especially if you’ve been a part of a child’s life for many years.  If you coach long enough, it will happen to you (and if it doesn’t, go buy a lottery ticket because you are one lucky person!).  Take a page from Elsa’s book and let it go.  Wish them well and know that this is just one of the less fun things about your job. 
  8. Learn from your mistakes.  Write down a few things you wish you had done better this season (you, not your athletes). How will you go about improving your skills to not repeat those errors.
  9. Build on your strengths.  Write down a few things that you did exceptionally well this year.  (again, you, not your athletes).  How will you leverage those to do even better next year.
  10. Think about the future.  Finally, turn your eyes to your future and the future of your team.  What plans do you want to put in place to ensure that the 2015-2016 season is the best yet.

Feeling better? I hope so.  Your job is hard and it’s an important one: you are effecting the lives of kids.  Be proud of what you do and know that you are making a difference.