As directors, your position focuses on so many other people and making sure they are supported, prepared and taken care of. It can often feel like you are treading water trying to keep your kids safe and your business alive. Navigating the “new” way to participate and host tournaments is enough to cause a club director to go crazy. The weight of the responsibility that you have as leaders right now can feel like it’s getting heavier by the day.
The responsibility you have to your athletes, to your community, to your investors, to your families, and to your programs can feel like they are in direct conflict with one another. What serves your athletes, might not serve your community and vice versa. You want to serve everyone, but what about yourself? Don’t neglect your own self care throughout the process. You can’t pour from an empty bucket.
Here are 8 ways to find balance and positive headspace during trying times.
Remember your why
Volleyball is an outlet for a lot of kids and parents, and can be a huge motivator when times are difficult. Players may remember volleyball as their saving grace during these difficult times. When you are knee deep in contact tracing, re-doing the tournament schedule for the ninth time, or paying invoices for additional PPE, cleaning supplies and cleaning services, remember your why and the number of people who you are giving the opportunity to play volleyball.
Celebrate small victories
During this time of uncertainty, anxiety and false hope, it’s important to celebrate the positive moments, even the small ones. Celebrate a 10 year old getting her serve over for the first time, congratulate athletes on their fitness milestones and head coaches on their first or 100th career win. Clip and share top plays from tournaments on social media, and celebrate your athletes that have maintained their grades or received other accolades outside of volleyball. A victory could be having a full week of practices without quarantining, getting to see your seniors play their last season together, or your parents getting to see their kids play in-person again after so many events with limited or no spectators. There will most likely be setbacks, but celebrating the small victories is a great way to balance those out and keep a positive perspective.
Kids have a crazy way of reminding us not to take anything too seriously! Sometimes instead of focusing on being the best club, switch gears and be the most fun club. Add themed practices, secret gift exchanges, team vs team scavenger hunts or Minute to Win It games. Other fun activities could be bowling, lock-ins, cards, board games, and field trips at big events such as sightseeing, obstacle courses, go-karts, and putt-putt. And don’t forget to make a fun TikTok video.
Lace up and play volleyball! Most directors are always in the gym coaching the athletes. Make a conscious effort to make some time to play with other adults, or a group of coaches. It can help rekindle your love for not only coaching, but playing the sport. It can serve as a great stress reliever and fun social escape, while also reminding you why it’s important to have athletic opportunities in the midst of a world pandemic. Providing ways for your coaches to enjoy the sport is a way for them to relieve the stress and demands of their upside-down world too!
The to-do list never ends, so add in time for yourself on that list each and every day. Because of how busy you are, you need to schedule that time; if you just wait for a chance, it won’t happen. Having a daily routine consisting of you time, family time and work time is no easy feat but if you find things you truly enjoy and implement them into your daily routine, it can help alleviate stress and add balance. Meditation, prayer, yoga, listening to music, reading a book, listening to a motivational or leadership podcast, and exercise are some ways to incorporate time for yourself, while also providing clarity and mindfulness.
Maintain a positive perspective
If you are feeling overwhelmed, run down, or stressed, remember that this situation is temporary. While the pandemic is definitely lasting longer than we would have hoped, it’s important to remember that this situation and the solutions we need to come up with are just for this season. Things will get better and easier in the near future. Keep reminding yourself that these challenging times are the exception, not the norm.
Everyone is on edge. Open and frequent communication with your families about what you do and why you do it, that builds trust and understanding. Even if it’s the smallest detail, the more they hear from you, the more they trust you and your decisions.
Everyone is dealing with pandemic fatigue. If it seems like people are grouchier and more difficult to deal with right now, it’s because they are! Understand that everyone is fighting their own battle that you may not know about so don’t take anything personally. Parents, coaches, and staff members may be dealing with a sick family member, financial worries, family challenges or other issues due to the pandemic. Levels of stress and frustration are at an all-time high.
In an industry that is so people-focused, this can make your position as a director even more challenging. Keep reminding yourself to give everyone some grace and understanding, and don’t take all of their frustrations on yourself. While their call may be about a hotel reservation or playing time, there is a good chance that most of their frustration is coming from something none of us can control… the pandemic!
Pay it forward
One great way to feel like you are making a positive difference is through community service. Host a food drive for a local school pantry at one of your events. With so many kids not in full time learning many are not getting the free and reduced breakfast and lunches they need, and food pantries are running out quickly. There are so many in need during this time, so find the opportunity to give to others by donating food, clothing or cash to homeless shelters, frontline workers, teachers and schools.
Focus on the short term
Make this year about surviving, not thriving. This is not a year to focus on profit or setting the world on fire financially. Think about the next six months and just figure out what you need to do for your club to survive. While many clubs are open and operating, there are still facing the challenges of two-week quarantines, tournament refunds, limited spectators, families with financial challenges, and more. There will be plenty of years in the future for new and exciting opportunities. This year, focus on relationships and your brand, and make decisions based on keeping your club open and healthy for future years.
This article is written by Briana Schunzel, JVA Director of Marketing and Education, in collaboration with several JVA Club Directors from across the country including Lloy Ball (Team Pineapple Volleyball Club), Maggie Griffin (VCNebraska), Lexi Patton (Virginia Elite), Emily Hawthorne (The Academy Volleyball Club), Alexz Smith (Matchbox Volleyball Club), and Will Robbins (Empowered Volleyball Club).