#coachlearninginsport: everyone hurts sometimes

I have had a day in my garden in Braidwood.
It is a thinking space as well as a place of horticultural adventure.
Today I have been thinking more than usual about the twenty-one coaches in my critical friend group.
One of the coaches in the group came under immense public scrutiny yesterday and I have been wondering what to say about his experience.
For some reason, I could not get an R.E.M. song out of my head in the garden. I do not know the lyrics but these lines stuck …

everybody cries
And everybody hurts sometimes

In my two and half years with my coaches, two national coaches have lost their jobs. Both are flourishing in new roles. They are remarkable people who use their humanity to inform their coaching.
Back in 2011, I wrote about Dark Woods and Crumple Zones. I mentioned Jonathan Franzen:

You know, you enter a dark wood at a certain point in your life and things start falling apart; your life is not what you expected it to be.

I mention Ben Pobjie too:

I know now the desperate flailing, the horrific suffocation that comes when those black waves come crashing over and you find yourself just about incapable of keeping your head up in the face of the merciless tides. But we’re all capable. We may have to lean on others from time to time, but we don’t have to fall. Tomorrow I may feel them crashing again, and become convinced that none of this is true, but now I have to affirm that it IS.

So, in my garden today, I have been thinking about my coaching friends on the other side of the world. The sun is setting in rural New South Wales and is rising over the British Isles.
I am hopeful that the R.E.M video is one way of starting the conversation that will emerge from the dark woods prompted by public scrutiny.
I will be adding Bill Withers to my song list too as another way of sharing Ben’s realisation that leaning is what friends do … and what they are there for. It is a reciprocal act.
We all need to lean at some point. How we prepare for this leaning is very important. The more public the profile of the coach, the more I think we do need to discuss dark woods and crumple zones.
I wonder how you have dealt with similar experiences and what songs play in your head as you prepare to address them.


  1. Being a sorts coach can be a cruel life. For the many, a ‘brave’ decision taken to name a starting line-up or making a change in mid-play will only be scrutinised by a handful of supporters. The most vocal of opponents will probably be the parents if its a junior team. But you live for a next fixture.
    As a high profile coach you’re decsions are scrutinised by the tens of thousands of fans in the stands, the millions who watch on TV and an army of pundits; who all have the benefit of hindsight.
    For me https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=N5jlPL1tNDY&feature=youtu.be Eye of the Tiger keeps me going.

    • Thank you for adding to the play list, Ron. I imagine you will have faced these issues a number of times in your long career as a coach.


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