10 Stress Management Techniques for Sport Coaches

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It is important for coaches and athletic directors to find healthy ways to cope with stress in order to stay in the best condition possible to coach their players. Coaches need to remember to maintain relationships outside of the athletic world as a reminder that there is more to life than coaching. Whether it’s just an occasional phone call, some deep breathing exercises, or even seeing a counselor, take the time necessary to separate from stressful events or situations. When it comes to dealing with stress, there are some helpful tactics that any athletic professional can use.

Soccer coach reviewing plays with a young team


1. Take Breaks

In order to prevent burnout, it is important to remember to step away from the game. This can take several forms from a quick 15-minute break or actual vacation time, depending on the situation. Examples include:

  • Leaving the office to go for a walk around the complex to give the mind a rest.
  • Exercising as a way to relieve the stress of the job.
  • Taking extended vacations before or after a season with friends or family to make sure the mind is fresh for a new year.

After taking a break, coaches return to the field with a clean slate and a fresh set of eyes. Coaches are not only relaxed, but have the energy to deal with the headaches that come with coaching. This tactic may even allow them to figure out the solution to that one, persistent problem.

2. Keep a Realistic Schedule

Keeping a schedule is important in any industry, especially athletics. It can be easy for people to unintentionally double-book schedule slots or budget too little time for a problem that winds up taking much larger than anticipated. Coaches can get so busy they won’t even remember what was on their to-do list without having it written down. To help keep an organized schedule, invest in a planner with plenty of slots for careful scheduling and room in the margins to make notes on certain tasks. Coaches need to stay away from stretching themselves too thin, so remember not to schedule too many obligations. Furthermore, allow ample time to complete each task by blocking off large slots in the schedule for events that take more time to complete.

Following these tips will allow coaches to keep their days well planned and relieve stress by knocking out obligations in an efficient manner.

3. Delegate Tasks

Another way to stay organized and alleviate some of your workload is by delegating tasks to coaching assistants. This is why there is a coaching staff. Remember that assistant coaches can handle tasks like making phone calls to other teams, administration, or potential prospects. Allow them to help plan the itinerary for an upcoming road trip or hold meetings with a certain subset of the team. By trusting in the people around them to take items off of their plate, coaches can significantly reduce their stress levels.

4. Allow Time for Personal Exercise

While coaches spend all day working athletes into physical shape, it can be hard to remember to take the time to stay in shape themselves. Many coaches were once competitive athletes and know what it feels like to stay in shape. There are many benefits to staying in shape which include:

  • Improving confidence, self-esteem, and body image.
  • Setting a good example for athletes that demonstrates a commitment to athletics and health is lifelong.
  • Keeping a healthy weight.
  • Releasing endorphins keeps people happy while loosening up the muscles to relieve stress and frustration.

As a coach, it can be tempting to work twelve hour days and forget to schedule time for personal exercise. Remember that exercising is one of the easiest and most rewarding ways to relieve stress.

5. Give Breathing Techniques a Chance

When it comes to breathing techniques, it is important to inhale and exhale deeply. Breathing techniques have proven results that have helped everyone, including coaches, manage stress. Breathing in deeply allows for maximal expansion and deflation. This helps to stretch and release muscles that are commonly used to carry stress. As the fibers move across each other, substances such as lactic acid are released from muscles and help people to relax. This releases hormones that create happiness and relieve stress. After a few breaths, it will slow down the heart rate and allow the stress to dissipate.

6. Spend Time With Those Close to You

Almost every sport has games during the weekends and practices during the week. This busy schedule can make it is easy to lose touch with family and friends. Remembering to spend time with these people can actually help relieve stress. In fact, these friends, either in the sports world or outside the industry, are great people to vent frustrations to. They can even bring new perspectives to the coaching profession. Family and friends also make a great counter-balance to a professional career and are an essential element to keeping people grounded.

Make sure to stay in touch with those that matter most. Whether it’s a phone call, a meal, or spending daily time with a spouse, do not lose touch with the people that matter most. They are important for managing stress and keeping a stable work-life balance.

7. Keep Up With Your Hobbies

Make sure to preserve life outside of the coaching world. While this might seem to distract from the profession, everyone has interests outside of coaching that are essential for keeping the mind fresh. Ideas for hobbies include:

  • Woodworking, blacksmithing, technology, or other home improvement projects.
  • Watching the latest TV series to generate another topic of conversation with other coaches, athletes, friends, and family.
  • Expanding the travel itinerary both domestically and abroad.

Hobbies are an important way to focus on something other than sports and give the mind a break. Find something to hang on to, outside of a coaching career. It’s the people without a source of happiness outside of coaching that can struggle the most.

8. If needed, see a Counselor

While many people believe there is a stigma about asking a counselor or therapist for help, ultimately this can be the necessary step to managing stress. Professionals have fantastic ideas about managing stress. They have spent many years in school studying the latest techniques in stress management and come to sessions armed with the expertise necessary to potentially save careers and relationships.

9. Stay Positive

Thinking positive thoughts is important for stress because people often become worried if they feel they are performing badly. Therefore, it is important to view problems as “challenges” or opportunities for improvement. This sets a great example for players on how to handle any problems that might arise in their own lives. Furthermore, this can translate into positive mindsets for the players and encourage success for the whole team.

10. Get To Know Your Team Personally

It can be tempting to view the team as a singular entity, but remember that it is made up of individual people with individual stories. Getting to know players outside of practices and games can be as easy as organizing team dinners either at restaurants or at someone’s house. Setting up a team-building activity at an amusement park, ropes course, or some other outdoor adventure center can encourage bonding and allow the team to have fun together. Coaches can even give everyone something to talk about by taking the team to see the most popular movie in theaters.

Finding a way to talk to the players about topics other than a sport will keep the atmosphere loose and the stress level low. Stress management is important for preserving the team atmosphere and personal life outside of work.

About Ohio University’s Online Master of Athletic Administration Degree

Ohio University’s online Master of Athletic Administration program is designed to teach professionals how to manage the many changes in interscholastic sports. The university launched the nation’s first academic program in sports administration in 1966 and continues to be a leader in sports business education. Ohio University’s MAA program is housed within the university’s College of Business, underscoring the university’s dedication to providing world-class sports business education. The program works in collaboration with the National Intercollegiate Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) to prepare graduates for certification and is accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA).


Applied Sports Psychology, “Stress Management Tips for Good Health”