Real talk: football spouses

Coaching, More than Football

I am a football coach and I am a woman who has a very understanding spouse.

We go through many of the same things as my colleagues … sacrifices of:

  • regular quality time
  • money
  • household standards
  • vacations

My spouse supports my goals. He used to even carry my football bag after games. 🙂

I have a full-time job outside of the school in addition to coaching, but my dream is to work on the field professionally someday. Thankfully, we both like rotisserie chicken for dinner and we both really love football.

Mrs. Vogt, a football spouse, gives this perspective:

 

Coaching isn’t an easy profession. Being in a relationship with one of us isn’t always easy. 

While football is the perfect iceberg – what you see on Friday is less than 10 percent of what’s really going on – I think that there are a few areas that directly translate from football to creating a better life:

Laundry.

Football is laundry warfare: grass-stains, blood, sweat, boogers, baked-in sweat, mud, Gatorade, paint and more. If you’ve ever wondered what takes so long on Fridays … most of the staffs I’ve worked on do laundry together after games. Most football coaches are fairly talented when it comes to non-delicates.

If laundry drives you crazy, create quality family time by making it into a game. Fold together and catch up. A friend of mine assigns his kids to a laundry basket to manage on their own – he and his wife supervise. (cheers!)

Strength.

Most of the us are still obsessed with the gym.

I cannot physically do everything I did as a player, and I hate it, but lifting heavy weights makes me feel like I once did on the field. It also clears my mind, helps me sleep, and eases my overall stress.

Encourage (and go with) your spouse to the gym. Try lifting heavy weights (PSA: great for long-term bone loss prevention for women). Run. Do yoga. Take your kids to the park and play tag. Whatever makes you happy and works for you … but the adage that sweating together helps us stay together is a universal truth whether it’s a team workout or your relationship.

Plans.

Coaches have a week of practice meticulously calculated at least seven days out.

This includes a comprehensive battle plan against our next opponent, adjustments, new plays, and drills to sharpen skills. We track water breaks.

We can all better prioritize family and spouses during the season. We can bring our kids to practice to give our spouses a break. We can host meals or potlucks to create a support system for coaching families. We can mark birthdays and anniversaries on the calendar and help each other make those special, in and out of season. (I think this goes double for the single coaches who tend to get left out.) We can invest in each other’s lives when things are good the way we tend to when they’re not.

Details. 

We watch and grade film every week.

We look at feet, hands, body position, decision-making, ball placement, speed, angles.

We break down our film and opponents. We know the starters, subs, and tendencies in each phase. We pour over film, go back to old game plans and playbooks, call trusted colleagues current and past, watch college and pro games on the weekend (a true goldmine of play and formation ideas and generally the bulk of what we talk to each other about that’s not work), literally anything that might give us an advantage.

We don’t leave any stone unturned. We discuss our plan many times.

We can channel this energy into plotting better success in our personal relationships. We need to do a better job understanding and communicating with each other about what makes us happy and plan to do more of it. We can give extra effort and whip up the same google calendar and spreadsheets to be intentional about our family, kids and spouses. Make a family battle plan.

Love.

Coaches love have huge hearts. Even the most intense men I’ve ever known were motivated by a desire to serve.

Loving people is heart-breaking and hard. In a perfect world, we have players and families who care, support of administrators, enough money to do what we need, a plethora of volunteers, a dedicated coaching staff, positive media coverage, great success in teaching skills and concepts, and a winning record.

If we lose a kid … to drugs, suicide, a fight, jail, a bad decision, or a tough family situation … or we can’t get through to them, we feel guilty, powerless, mad.

In the coaches office, we get to be removed from a thousand opinions, red tape and hard realities. We all want to be better for our families, communities, ourselves … so we keep going back to what we know – working the details, making a plan, coaching the kids, trying to stay on track.

I always feel the best when my spouse shows up to games and important functions. I always know at least one person has my back no matter what happens. Celebrate the wins and remind us of your love when it doesn’t go our way. Hold us accountable to making life outside of football just as important, strong, detailed, planned and clean.

No matter what, always lead with your heart.

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Assume Nothing

Coaching

Monday nights are for #HogFBChat Twitter meetings.

A big group of Offensive Line coaches sit around and share ideas. It’s fun to see other coaches I’ve worked with contributing, and hundreds I’ve never met … discussing how to get better.

Tonight, I joined a few coaches in a conversation I’m passionate about: teaching.

Rewind: I think about my high school football coach a lot, even almost 20 years later.

Coach Flynn helped me LEARN the game.

It helped that there were zero expectations – no one in my family ever played.

Outside of me, I’m sure no one thought I would really make it through the season, let alone go on to play on the USA Football national team 10 years later.

Being a girl learning the game also worked in my favor, because in addition to the lack of expectations and pressures most players face, I had no ego. I found out day one that I didn’t know any of the things I thought I knew …. so I asked a million questions.

I literally was in the coaches’ office most days after practice and looking back on it now, Coach Flynn deserved an extra stipend just for answering my questions.

Spending time with players teaching is a huge investment in their development … especially since you have approximately one million things to do at all times as a coach.

What Coach Flynn, my teammates, and coaches over the years did for me was communicate all the details. I’m now firmly in the camp of people who believe life (and football) is conquering the small things.

Tonight I commented on the thread below during #HogFBChat … and I feel very strongly that my inexperience early on is now an asset as a coach. I don’t assume or expect the kids to walk in the door with the football IQ we want. I just want to make sure they leave us with one.

My best advice for coaching younger players:

  • Never assume your players know what you say, or what you want. You’ll both always be frustrated. Show them, tell them, repeat.
  • Never talk down to your players or assume that the JV / freshmen / 8th graders shouldn’t learn something because it’s “for the varsity.” Those kids are your future varsity … and you might need them sooner than either of you thinks.
  • If you show players how knowing more will directly help them improve or prepare to be more successful … they might want to be better students of the game.
  • Get sub-varsity kids access to film. Grade it, scout it, teach them how to watch it. This pays dividends in the long run. Hudl makes it so easy.
  • Keep the teaching (and you talking) short and focused. Pick the most important keys and build on them as you go along.
  • Create an environment where curiosity is valued. Young players hate looking stupid and will rarely ask questions. Lots of times, they might not even be sure where to start.
  • If you don’t know an answer … find out. Never guess.

Here’s to us all being better coaches, mentors and teachers every day.

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