A Young Coaches’ Perspective: What They Don’t Tell You About Coaching


This story initially appeared on Behind the Whistle, the official blog of the IWLCA, and is being republished with permission from the organization. Paxton Boyer is the head coach at Alderson Broaddus University.

When you tell someone that you are a collegiate lacrosse coach, they almost always think that you just coach and that’s it — blow the whistle and then go home. No one outside of the coaching community understands the stress, excitement, frustration and everything else that comes with the job, unless they are a coach themselves.

So, what don’t they tell you when you get hired or sign up to coach?

You will wear innumerable hats.

You are the go between (Go between? What does that mean?) for your student-athletes when it comes to financial aid, compliance and academics. You will have to balance practice planning, travel itineraries, scouting reports, prospect visits, phone calls, budgets and so much more.

You are a mentor and a role model for your student-athletes. You help set them up for success via academic check-ins, running library study hours and sometimes even tutor them yourself. When they are on campus, you are the adult figure in their lives that they can trust to talk about things. You are their shoulder to lean on.

They don’t tell you that the love and passion you have for your student-athletes will become more of a priority than winning games. They don’t tell you that you will feel everything they are going through when they experience trials and adversity.

They don’t tell you that seeing them succeed on and off the field will bring you the greatest joy in the world.

Yes, coaching collegiately is a dream come true for most of us. And yes, coaching is another avenue for you to stay in the sport that you love. However, coaching is just plain tough. They won’t tell you how much your mental health will suffer at times ... and that it’s OK to seek professional help before you burn out. You may even see a therapist and just talk about work! For us young coaches, it is sometimes hard to find the right balance between work and personal life, because we love what we do. You will find that you will lean on those around you more and more.

Everything happens for a reason — you meet players for a reason, and you become friends with other coaches from around the country for a reason. You will lean on your tribe within the coaching community a lot.

So, young coaches who are in a similar season of life and coaching, I leave you with some advice: it’s going to be tough at times, a lot tougher than you might think. It’s going to challenge you, mentally, physically and emotionally. Talk to other coaches, even if it is just a “hey,” at a tournament or ask for some advice on what block to pull in Jenga at the convention. You will never know who you will meet because those interactions may lead to more meaningful friendships down the road. Coaching will have an impact on you, even if you are only a coach for a short time, so embrace the rollercoaster and lean into the job with everything you have.

Coaching is one of the most rewarding occupations that one can have. It is all worth it when you are able to say that you positively impacted your student-athletes’ lives. It is all worth it when you see your student-athletes walk across the stage at graduation.

Most Recent

Fall Ball Focus: Denver Looking to Build Leaders While it Fills Holes

Having lost much of its starting lineup, Denver enters 2022 with a clean slate.

Fall Ball Focus: Katie Whelan Not Blinded by the Bright Lights

Whelan, ready to step in for all-time great Alyssa Parrella, is in for a big spring.

Fall Ball Focus: Belle Martire Determined to Turn W&M Into a Winner

"We will not be leaving here without a CAA trophy," a determined Martire said.

Behind the Whistle: 20 Lessons From a Coaching Mentor & Former 'Boss' Coach

In an IWLCA blog post, Noelle Brouillard shares tips she learned from her mentor and friend.

Twitter Posts