As coaches we spend a lot of time discussing optimal recovery strategies for our players. We realize the importance of player freshness and go through a complex planning process to make sure that our players are not accumulating fatigue during the season.
The reason for our obsession with player freshness is grounded in science. If your players are fatigued, they will have a greater risk of injury and research shows that teams with the highest player availability win more games and are more successful over time.
In addition to these facts we as coaches recognize that players make worse decisions when they are fatigued during the game than when they are fresh. Lower quality decisions will reduce the chance of your team winning, which is why you might substitute fatigued players and bring on a fresh player during the game.
There is probably no coach who disagrees with what’s written above. Everyone understands that fatigue in players equals lower quality decision making and as a consequence a lower chance of winning.
But what about the fatigue in you, the coach?
Naturally the same principle applies to you as it does for the players. A coach who is fatigued will make worse decisions than a coach who is fresh. The consequence is the same as when your players are fatigued, you will reduce the chance of winning.
Yet, within the coaching community it seams to be very important to work long hours without taking time off. Perhaps this is grounded in a belief that working long hours is to show others that you “care” and are doing everything that’s possible to improve your team and win games.
Or maybe we spend so much time in the office because it’s so fun. We are doing what we love and therefore we start out with all that energy that makes it possible to go on for 14 hours per day 6-7 days a week. After all, we want to do all we can to improve our players and increase the chance of winning, that’s why we coach.
So maybe the culture for quantity over quality is a consequence of having all that energy in the first couple of months and therefore creating the habit of working long days and no time off? Or maybe it’s a combination of the two.
Regardless of what the reason for the long days and no time off is, what you need to realize as the coach is that unless you make sure to recover between your periods of hard work and long days, the quality of your coaching actions will go down.
Your decision making will become worse and you will start spending more time doing nothing, you will become less efficient in executing your tasks and coaching actions. In addition you have all the usual negative health issues related to high stress environments and not spending enough time with your family.
Maybe it’s time we as coaches start thinking more about our own recovery between games and intense periods to make sure that our decision making stays at a high level. Working less hours to increase the quality and efficiency of our coaching actions!
Maintaining coach freshness during the season to keep us from making coaching mistakes that will cost our team points in the important games down the stretch is as important as maintaining player freshness. If you are able to maintain the quality of your decision making at the end of the season you will have a greater chance of winning.
However, since we love what we do it’s easy to get carried away, especially at the start of the season. When you after 2-3 months notice the accumulated fatigue and the lower quality of your decision making, it’s already too late.
In the same way you plan optimal recovery strategies for your players from the start of the season to help them maintain freshness and avoid accumulation of fatigue, you should plan your own coach recovery strategies to maintain high quality decision making and coaching actions during the whole season.