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Barbell Logic

May 10, 2022

Burnout can occur in any pursuit or career path, but can be particularly noxious for careers coming from passion. Coaching fits that bill certainly, as no one comes to coaching to make billions. So, acknowledging that burnout exists and can happen, how do we avoid it (or stop it if we find ourselves burnt out).

What is Coaching Burnout?

Burnout isn't being tired. Maybe the analogy in training is that it's not the soreness or exhaustion that one hard workout can create, but rather the buildup of stress unrecovered from (overtraining).

Coaching burnout will feel like emotional exhaustion, and symptoms may include:

  • not training
  • not attending nutrition
  • dreading work
  • feeling like you're putting on a show
  • resentment

Burnout is a signal that something or many things are wrong. This is an opportunity to right those wrongs and grow as a person and professional barbell coach.

Causes of Coaching Burnout

What causes burnout? The reasons to feel exhausted differ, but it likely comes from a violated boundaries or a lack of priorities. It ultimately comes down to not knowing and pursuing what you want.

You may not know what you want as you begin to coach. That is okay. Those desires may change, and probably will.

You may begin to say yes to every coaching opportunity that presents itself, as you want coaching experience. As you gain experience and expertise, you will likely need to know how to choose opportunities, which means saying no to things that do not bring you closer to your goals.

If you allow your in-person sessions to regularly bleed over their allocated time, you are not only providing more than you agreed to but you are likely stepping on your training time, family time, personal time, or lunch time.

Similarly, if you retain old clients that are paying lower rates when you were a less-skilled coach, you likely need to tell those clients that your rate has increased and be prepared to justify why. You'll likely be surprised at their response.

Avoiding or Ending Coaching Burnout

Know your boundaries. You may not know them as you begin as a coach, but identifying them and communicating them to your clients and other clearly sets expectations up front. You may (and likely will) have to defend them at some point.

Identify what you want and work toward your goals. This will require checking in, as your desires and goals will change. Keeping your goals in mind helps you evaluate opportunities and know which to follow and which to avoid.

Know your scope of practice. You cannot be all things for your client. It can be helpful to have other resources or experts you can refer your clients to, but you are not and should not be a therapist or other professional.

Take the time to check-in with how you feel. How do you feel after a call with a client, an in-person coaching session, or how are you feeling in general? Just as slower bar speed and lower desire to train can indicate you're heading toward overtraining, seeing repeated negative emotions can help you identify you need to change something in your coaching practice.

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