elitefts™ Sunday Edition

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Here it is, the most stressful part of being a collegiate strength coach—the end of the year! The coaching carousel is in full swing. It's like musical chairs, and I hope we all have a seat when the music stops. I hate that I even have to write this article. I wish that all strength coaches were snug in their beds with visions of championships dancing in their head. But in reality, right or wrong (usually wrong), some of us will lose our jobs. It's an awful thing to happen, especially if you have a family or a staff you're in charge of. I wish you all nothing but the best and I want to give a few tips that might help you get right back on your feet and on to the weight room floor.

1. Don’t take it personally. Most of the times that strength coaches are let go, it's due to factors that you don't and can't control. It could be budgetary, it could be a coach pointing a finger at someone to save his own ass, or if could be that you were just fired with the staff when the head coach was canned. Regardless, unless you really messed up something, it's out of your control. So don’t take it personally. Dust yourself off and move on. Don’t start doubting yourself or your abilities. There is a coach out there who is looking to hire someone just like you. If you start doubting yourself and lose confidence, how will that look on an interview or over the phone? A strength coach without any confidence isn't a good combination. Stay positive!

2. Seek professional help. Ask those you know and trust about anything you can think of—potential job openings, an evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses, your resume, the best avenue to take...anything that can help you. Don’t be afraid to be unorthodox. If you have a great relationship with your media relations person, have him help you write a resume or give advice on interviews. Trainers and team doctors are a great resource. Good relationship with the athletic director past or present? Ask him or her. Even assistant or associate athletic directors have been around the block and are more than willing to help. Don't be afraid to talk to other coaches, even ones who you weren't hands on with their teams. When you do a good job, everyone notices. You never know who knows who.

3. Backtrack your resume. You need to look back at every coach, especially the assistants that you've worked with. In this business, it's so easy to lose touch with a guy, but we all understand if you call a former coach out of the blue. I've had coaches who I haven't seen or talked to in ten years call me to ask about jobs, recommendations, openings, and potential candidates. Almost all coaches don't take offense to not talking to you about the day-to-day things. We're all in this crazy profession together and they may be calling on you some day for a reference! This is why it is so important to do a good job wherever you are. You should do your job the best that you can and act professionally when doing it. We all have coaches we may not get along with on a staff for whatever reason, but always act professionally toward them. It will go a long way.

4. Reach out to everyone. Don't be afraid to call on a coach who you may have met and shook hands with before a game or in a lobby at a conference or spent a professional day with. Even the slightest contact is a contact when beating the bushes for a job. Call, email, or text whomever it takes. Ask equipment vendors, article writers, and book publishers. Get in your car and drive to the nearest school. Even try your barber.

5. Swallow your ego. This is a hard one, but at some point, you may have to call on a rival or a coach you've never clicked with. The worst he can say is no, but in most cases, professionalism and a desire to improve this profession takes over and he will help you. I know coaches who have fired guys but got them jobs right away somewhere else. Let’s face it—some people just don’t fit into your system, but they will somewhere else. I had an employee once who needed to move closer to home for family reasons, and this was the only school near enough that had an opening. I had to swallow all my competitiveness to pick up the phone to call and try to get my guy a job. We ended up having a great conversation and became “professional rivals.” And my guy got the job. It was a win for everyone.

6. Swallow your pride. Get to the national convention and get around coaches. It's the worst feeling in the world to have to walk around trying to meet people and ask for a job, but it's a necessary evil. It sucks, but you may bump into a guy you haven't seen in a long time who may be the missing link to you getting employed. I've seen it happen over and over.

7. Be relentless. Once you get a lead or an interview, don't let yourself fall by the wayside. We're all busy, but stay in constant contact with that person. I had a guy who called me every day. It drove me crazy but showed how bad he wanted the job. He finally got it in the end. He wound up being one of the best staff members I've ever had. You aren't dating, so don't question whether or not you should call. This is a real life profession that should be taken seriously if you want to be employed.

I hope these seven tips have helped. For those of you looking, I wish you all the best. For those who aren't, keep up the good work and let’s help those in need. It is the season.