While being an athletic coach is rewarding in many ways, there are disadvantages to the career. Downsides include uncertain job security, mounting pressure from boosters and general managers, as well as health concerns resulting from the constant demands to perform.
Job Security Isn't Secure
Sports are by nature competitive, and coaches must keep that competitive edge in all aspects of their career. Just like top athletes vying for starting positions, coaches are always one loss away from being out of a job. There is no room for a bad day, especially for coaches of top-performing teams. It's easy to be motivational and uplifting for low-performing teams, because everyone from the athletes to directors and fans will be happy to see progress. But if your job is to win championships and you don't, it boils down to your leadership. And, as if losing a job over a bad season isn't enough, every new prospective employer is looking at your failure.
Everyone Knows Better
Watch a college or professional football game while sitting at a sports bar and it is clear: Everyone from the bartender to the sorority girls in the corner think they know more about the game than those on the field. It's easy to say what a coach should have done. You may not have to deal with fans sitting at a bar, but you do have to deal with boosters or general managers questioning your every decision. As a coach, you have a vision and game plan for your team. While your team members might be on the same page as you, many others aren't, and they are happy to tell you exactly what you are doing wrong -- at least their version of it.
There are coaches who are in great shape and those who could stand to lose a few pounds. Regardless of diet and health, more coaches are finding themselves suffering from health issues related to the job. Having to constantly withstand all the pressures of big games and the daily defense of choices, it isn't uncommon for coaches to suffer heart problems, anxiety attacks and depression. There is less downtime for coaches, with off-seasons spent recruiting or strategizing new plays. With no real rest set into the annual calendar, coaches are away from family and miss many holidays, adding to personal anxiety and stress.
Coaches recruit players because they believe in their talent, often seeing their potential long before they have a proven track record. Working with players who don't put forth effort or just can't take things to the next level is frustrating and disappointing. It is heartbreaking to cut a player who you have spent time, money and energy developing. Coaches want to see their players win, and it hurts when they don't.
Worth It All?
Great coaches are as fierce and competitive as their players and live to perform under the pressure. Why? Because the execution of the perfect play or the winning season is something children dream about. The opportunity for greatness and the satisfaction of helping others achieve their dreams is what drives coaches to do what they do, in spite of any perceived disadvantage.