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As a job search consultant for coaches at both the high school and college levels, the No. 1 question I get during the months of October and November is: How do I know when it's time to go? You are bored
You're not being challenged where you are anymore, and that leads to boredom. There are a variety of reasons a coach gets bored: level of competition is not stimulating, the football program is not stimulating you, the head coach is not stimulating you. You're going through the motions, but not having fun, and not making a difference in any facet of being a coach. It might be time to go.Your vision is not being supported
This can happen to you as a head coach or as an assistant coach. Sometimes your vision is no longer being supported because the people above you change out for new people. Sometimes it is because you've been preaching the same thing for a long time, and that message is too stale.
When your vision is no longer supported, it might be time to go. Because what will happen if you don't go is that you will get bitter. You will become sour toward your job. And if you teach and coach in the same place, that bitterness will spill over to all facets of your job at that school.
What you need to ask yourself when your vision is not supported is "Why is my vision not being supported?" Then you need to determine if that is because of you, or because of your supervisors. You are not growing
A head coach I worked for named Robert Kistner once told me that his philosophy in hiring coaches is, "If I'm the smartest guy in the room, I'm in the wrong room." I like that. Sometimes we stop growing as a coach because we simply aren't being challenged by anyone else on our staff.
Have you recently felt like you aren't getting any better as a coach? Maybe you have been in the same place for some time, surrounded by all of the same guys, and you stopped growing at some point. You don't feel that need to get better, because you are getting by just fine as you are. You haven't read anything or seen anything in the last few years that helped you get better as a coach because you "have it figured out." It might be time to go.Things have changed
I was once hired as an athletic director at a school that was being led by a superintendent who wanted to really make athletics something special. "My door is always open if you need a solution to a frustration, just come see me," he told me on my first day there. They opened the pocketbook a little wider, helped me to hire some great coaches, and we instilled a great vision for a successful athletic program. After winning just three league championships in 10 years, we won six championships in my first year.
Then everything changed just about overnight. The superintendent who brought me in was fired, and as soon as I heard that news, I knew that things would probably go back to how they were before I arrived. Then the principal who hired me was transferred. And that's all she wrote. The new admin had a completely different vision for athletics. It was time for me to move on.You are frustrated with your boss
When you lose faith and trust in your boss, you get frustrated. Or, when he/she isn't communicating well with you, you get frustrated. There are times when you can work through frustration, and there are times when the relationship gets "past the point of no return."
I've been in this situation before. The superintendent where I had been for five years (small, private school) had two sons come through my program. She came in to my office one Sunday afternoon while I was breaking down our next opponent. Said she needed to chat about the football program; this was the first time that she had done such a thing. I could tell that she was frustrated, and heard her explaining things to me that she didn't like. I could also tell that this wasn't coming from her, but from a small group of parents.
Long story short, she went on to explain that she wasn't happy with how the coaching staff was holding kids accountable. "Too much yelling." I totally disagreed with her, and reminded her that "The same staff has been here the last five years together." I'll never forget the quote: "There is something wrong in the mix; we are going to have to re-evaluate things at the end of the season."
The handwriting was on the wall for me. That 15-minute conversation and her last statement made it clear to me that she no longer had confidence in my leadership. Although I had led each of my teams there to the playoffs, including a semifinal run (the school had only been two other times in 40 years) she didn't like how things were going.
I went and discussed this conversation with the athletic director the next day. He was not on the same page as the superintendent. He told me to stay focused on the rest of the season. But I told him that day that I was probably on my way out, that I knew the superintendent had lost confidence in my leadership of the football program, and that she was being persuaded to make a change by a small group of parents.
A few weeks after the season, I gave them my resignation to pursue my first athletic director position. And it turned out well: I landed in a tremendous place as the AD and head football coach.Chris Fore is a veteran Head Football Coach and Athletic Director from Southern California. He consults coaches and programs nationwide through his business Eight Laces Consulting.