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Postgame Unwind

One of the most draining parts of being a coach is in-game coaching. From calling plays to determining substitutions to answering players’ questions, your brain is usually going in a thousand different directions.

Once the game is over, coaches can be absorbed in an onslaught of self-analysis: Maybe I should have tried a different strategy. Maybe I should have started a different player. And winning a nail biter can throw enough adrenaline into the system to keep a normally placid individual awake long past bedtime.

But too much time spent hyped up after a game can lead to burnout. What are some solutions?

Take time to process: “Win or lose, I have trouble sleeping after games,” admits Dawn Redd, Head Women’s Volleyball Coach at Beloit College in Wisconsin. “So I make sure that when I come home, I just sit for a half-hour to an hour—no matter what. Even if I get home at 1 a.m., I sit and process how everything went.”

Stay away from the tape: “I used to drive myself nuts watching film,” says Bruce Keith, a retired high school head football coach, who made stops in North Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado. “I’d bring it home Friday night and watch it through the night, sometimes until sunrise on Saturday. I realized after a while that it was counterproductive, so I stopped. I think the best way for me to unwind was just to be with my wife and talk about it, or to not talk about it, but just to be with her.”

Go out to dinner: “After a game I go out with my wife and assistant coaches,” says Randy Montgomery, Head Boys’ Basketball Coach at West Branch High School, in Beloit, Ohio. “We sit around and talk for while. As a head coach, you re-live everything—especially if you lose. I try not to watch film until the next day, though.”

Exercise can help: Jack Thomson, Head Baseball Coach at Sierra High School in Manteca, Calif., also always finds a way to unwind. “After a tough game, sometimes I’ll come home and run,” he says. “Sometimes we’ll just talk as a coaching staff after a game and sometimes we’ll meet with the players to figure out a solution together.” 

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