Written by Scott Bauman
Sports have a tendency to be nuanced with family. The terms ‘team-mom/dad’ or ‘coaches wife/husband’ has been coined because of how involved parents or spouses can be with programs. Locker rooms are often associated with being an extension to their family. And the dynamic that takes place when coaching becomes generational becomes an interesting challenge in one’s career. #FamilyAndBasketball are not mutually exclusive to coaching.
Time is the most valuable commodity that we all share. There are few times in a calendar year that you can circle as open and with with the holiday week passing us by yet again in the offseason; the topic seems fitting. My hope is everyone found an opportunity to get away and get out of the office to be with friends, loved ones, or in seclusion (if preferred) free of thought.
This game has the capability of consuming you. Especially early in your career when there may be fewer obligations outside the occupation and an increased likelihood that you are accepting job opportunities further away from family. As your career continues with life developing priorities naturally begin to shift. Finding a balance will be subjective to the individual situation. However, I can attest to losing enough sleep as it is during the season due to overactive thinking, so the time intended to be spent away from basketball is vital to staying fresh. When there are opportunities to get away it is important to take advantage of them.
Again everybody’s situation is different, but here are a few things that have worked for me to balance ball and life:
- Have a schedule/planner/daily agenda: Time management reduces the amount of surprises on the checklist to get accomplished. It also can keep you on task to get things done by deadlines.
- Time put in doesn’t necessarily mean productivity: This isn’t to say that those taking pride in first-in and last-to-leave are wasting time. But grinding doesn’t always have to be based on quantity.
- Take advantage of shared interests: My wife (also coaches) does yoga with her athletes and has embraced teaching our guys in our program. We like to travel, so we look to take advantage of any open days we have to invite family or get out of town to see family.
- Bring work home or them to work: This doesn’t sound appealing on the surface. We will bring work home (i.e. watch film, create practice plans, or send recruiting emails) just to be present with each other in the same room. If you have kids, sit down and hang out – as long as their attention span allows – talking film with them. Or vice versa with the yoga example.
- Don’t bring work home (stress): This is likely the toughest. Close the book. Close the computer. Or mentally shut off. Avoid creating undue tension within the house.
Stay tuned for next week’s topic #MarriedToCoach. My wife will take to the keyboard to give her thoughts on our journey of both being in coaching and the dynamic of a coach’s life together.
Family Usage in Our Program
Switch gears here to a more basketball-centric conversation. I will be the first to tell you that I do not use the word ‘family’ a ton in our program. Instead, I emphasize ‘together’ heavily. It is really a conversation of semantics, in which I will struggle to explain. But I think it is really a difference in artificially pushing our program as a family versus recognizing the individuality that exists within our team, yet collectively pursuing a similar goal with shared sacrifices and effort. From playing to coaching I have been with programs that all preach the theory of the locker room is your family. And while I agree contextually that there is a high correlation of teams forming relationships and shared experiences comparable to a family; it just seems forced or disingenuous therefore I have a hard time preaching it. Teammates will connect differently throughout the locker room. Coaches will connect on a different level with each player that comes through the program. It doesn’t change my investment level for any of our players. My number one priority for all of my players as a coach is preparing them to the best of my ability to be successful in athletics equipped with a sharper skill-set to apply in a real-world setting following their time competing. Will I walk away playing a father-figure role with each and every one of them? Unlikely. However, if our locker room fosters an environment of support, sacrifice, and loyalty to each other carrying out a collective mission, my hope is many of them come out with the sense that they have competed with a band of brothers.
Side story – one of the best traditions I have been a part of as a staff was at Bluffton University. On senior day all fathers (or invited significant other) are invited to participate in a full game-day experience. They join us for morning team breakfast, walk-through, and all the way up to the pregame locker room speech. The pregame speech is a time where each invited family member has a moment to say anything they want to inspire their son, family member, or team. Without providing any specifics, let’s just say this is about as emotionally invigorating as it gets for the last time to play at home in front of family. For coaches, take in consideration that emotions are high and this also could be a pivotal game so regaining focus is essential before actual tip-off.
What I do embrace the most pertaining to instilling a family environment within our program is staying connected following graduation. It is important to me that our guys know that regardless of situation or location that I am still there for them if needed, and that their time with our program was valued. Alumni events are still things I aim to improve each year. We have had collaborative practices inviting alumni back during winter break followed up with lunch with the current team. They are always invited back during the off-season to work with our guys. And our Athletic Director does a good job with open invitations to any and all of our events that take place throughout the course of the year.
Coaching Family Members
It has been fun to already have coached younger brothers of players that have come through our program. Interesting to see the similarities in tendencies or dispositions and their differences to being coached. My coaching career has allowed me to be a part of a father/son staff, and with an assistant who was actively coaching his son. However, I have not been a position to ever coach a family member of my own. It would be more conducive for other coaches that have been in those positions to speak on their experiences, but from an outsider perspective, it falls back to balance. The ability to separate coaching from biases would be difficult for anyone. Imagine doing it in the context of your career. It can be some of the most memorable experiences for them or potentially cause a rift straining their relationship.
#BallisLife is trendy, but it is best when you balance #BallAndLife.