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Fight Through The Grind

The season can be a long grind. Especially for coaches trying to juggle a variety of responsibilities. When you find yourself exhausted or on edge in the middle of a season it can be difficult to stay on top of your game and focus on your duties as a coach. To help you get over the hump, here are some strategies worth trying out.

In an article on, Erica Quam discusses the importance of willpower and self-control as it relates to coaching. Using references from a book by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D, titled The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It, Quam outlines how coaches can tap into their willpower in order to get through the grind of a long season. These strategies can help you successfully balance your personal health and happiness with the many demands of coaching.

1. “I will”, “I won't”, or “I want”

The “I will” challenge – Identify something you'd like to do more of, or something you’ve been meaning to do but keep putting off. If this is something that will make your life better, dedicate time to making it happen. 

The “I won’t” challenge – Is there anything you’re doing that is undermining your health, happiness, or success? If so, find the one thing that you would most like to stop doing and start taking steps to limit it or completely cut it out. It can help to write out a detailed, step-by-step plan so you can hold yourself accountable.

The “I want” challenge – What is your most important long-term goal? Is there something that you immediately want that might get in the way of this goal? Identify these things and set yourself on the right path towards long-term success.

Consider these three challenges and try to complete at least one during the season.

2. Willpower helps us protect ourselves from ourselves

“Willpower tries to protect you from yourself,” writes Quam. “It keeps you from making a bad decision or saying something you'll immediately regret. When you're in a H.A.L.T. situation (you're hungry, angry, lonely, or tired) you've got to be all the more careful. It's hard! Because you have to tap into even more willpower not to blow up at a time when you're lowest on energy.”

Tapping into your willpower may seem difficult, but that’s exactly what you will need to do to get through times of stress that are likely to arise throughout the course of a season. Instead of blowing up on those around you, becoming irritable, or neglecting your responsibilities, you will need to use willpower to stay composed and focused. One strategy that Quam suggests is teaching people around you what H.A.L.T. means and what you need when you're feeling those symptoms. Maybe you need more support, or maybe you need to be given some space. Whatever it is, it’s important that you work with those around you to get through the stressful times. 

3. Willpower is like a muscle

Self-control is something that can be trained and strengthened with regular practice. And just like when you train athletes, it’s important that you don’t increase volume and intensity too fast. It’s great to set high goals, but when you change an old habit don’t go too fast or you will likely become overwhelmed. Try to find small ways to change these patterns one step at a time, and be conscious of the moments during a season when your willpower seems to wane. This will help you strengthen your self-control incrementally, and will prepare you for when things get rough. 

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