Early on in coaching careers is where many coaches learn a variety important lessons that they remember for the rest of their coaching journey. Many of those have to do with taking jobs that maybe they shouldn’t have, or turning down jobs that – in retrospect – they should have taken.
As I look back and reflect on my own coaching journey, I came up with 7 questions you should ask before taking another job this off season that may help you in your decision making process.
Keep these in mind as new opportunities arise this off season, and beyond.
1 – Can you pour everything you have into the new opportunity day in and day out?
This may be the single most important question, because if you can’t pour everything you have into a new opportunity, then there’s really no reason to explore things any further. The future of your career personally and professionally depends on it, not to mention that of your family as well. You shouldn’t take another job with the idea that it’s a stepping stone to something bigger and better, because chances are you won’t be able the same amount of effort into it that you would if you treat ever stop like your dream job and final destination. Ask successful coaches and they’ll tell you the same.
2 -Will this new opportunity allow you room to grow both personally and professionally?
If I could put my finger on a way that coaches continue to progress in this profession, it’s when they’ve found roles where they are challenged on both a personal and professional level. That can mean anything from switching sides of the ball, to going from a high school head coach or coordinator to a college quality control role to learn more about approaching the game from that perspective, to simply stepping out of a comfort zone in a way that challenges them on a more personal level. The progression of a successful coach isn’t always intern / graduate assistant to assistant coach to coordinator to head coach, many, many, many guys have strayed from that traditional path and found different ways to challenge themselves only to find themselves better off in the long run.
3 – Will your opinion be valued?
Nothing is more frustrating that being somewhere where your ideas and suggestions aren’t valued, and when that’s the case it’s hard to pour your heart and soul into practice, game planning, recruiting, and the myriad of other things that go into coaching. When your opinion isn’t valued in a game plan, bitterness tends to develop, and that gets passed on to other members of the staff, as well as the kids, and that’s not good for anyone. So bottom line, go somewhere where you feel your opinions will carry value.
4 – Does the new staff value family and spending time with them as much as you do?
When you’re facing a major decision on whether to take another job and you have family to think of, it’s important to ask whether the new opportunity puts the same type of value on family time that you do and it’s an issue that you all see eye to eye on. If that’s a hurdle, it can make life at home, and at the office, a bit more difficult than it needs to be.
5 – Can you make a difference in the lives of student athletes there?
We’re all in coaching to make a difference in the lives of young people, so if you’re considering another opportunity, it’s only logical that you ask yourself if you can make a difference in the lives of the student athletes and kids there. If the answer is no, then some serious self reflection needs to be done on the real reasons why you’re considering the job in the first place, and a lot of times the answer may come back for more selfish reasons.
6 – Is this in the best interest of your family?
With a wife and kids to think of, this will be the first thing that comes to mind for many guys when a new opportunity presents itself, and then a million questions start coming to mind. Can my wife get a job in the area? How far will my salary go with the cost of living in that area? What are the schools like for my kids? What are we going to do for daycare?…and so many more issues that have to be addressed. Moving for a new coaching job impacts so many lives beyond just your own and that certainly needs to be taken into serious consideration. If you’re still young, and unmarried without kids, then you’ll obviously see this one a bit differently.
7 – Is it a place, and a staff, you believe in?
If you’ve been offered a new opportunity somewhere, chances are that the folks extending the offer have a tremendous amount of belief in you as a person, and as a coach, so before accepting the job you need to ask yourself is it someplace that you believe in, staffed by people you can get behind and go to bat for. This is equally as true at the high school level as it is at the college level where you’ll be convincing kids to spend some of the most formidable years of their lives – so you’ve got to believe in the place and the people as much as they believe in you. That means different things for different roles – for an assistant coaching role that means the head coach, coordinators, for head coaches that means your athletic director and administration, and for coordinators that means head coaches, the AD, and the assistant coaches that will will work with you.