The ups and downs of coaching

Winning doesn’t matter, well at least not until you get to a certain age. When I first started coaching I looked at the list of divisions in the league we had been put in and realised with mounting horror that it was possible we could get relegated every season and the team could sink without a trace.

And my fears gathered momentum when the team that had invested all its hopes in my coaching lost its first game. Winning suddenly became important. It brings with it a pressure that some coaches find difficult to deal with.

First matches in new leagues can be scary, whether your team has been promoted or relegated. I’ve spent many a sleepless night before the first match of the season when my team has won promotion, worrying that we will not be good enough and get thrashed 7-0. The players are usually a bit nervous too, worried they won’t be good enough.

Poisoned chalice

But as I have learned about coaching and the development of young players, it is something that worries me less and less. Promotion and relegation can bring mixed blessings – the joys of being promoted can be quickly forgotten the next season as the league above can often prove to be a poisoned chalice. Be careful what you wish for. I have known canny coaches who have lost matches at the end of the season purely because they didn’t want to be promoted.

Relegation, on the other hand, can deliver a season where you are winning lots of games and the horrors of the previous season are lost in a parade of glory. But watch out, as you could be on the verge of going back up to the division that gave you such a tough time the year before.

Development stage

The simple beauty of promotion and relegation is that it does sort teams out so they are in a division more suited to the stage of development they are at, rather than playing the same teams as the previous season and being thrashed every week once again.

The problems arise when you lose players because of relegation and you are struggling to keep the team going. Promotion is a different problem. The expectation will be high and players will have friends who will want to play for your team because they are winners.

Check out my guide in this issue about surviving the perils of promotion and relegation and what you can do to maximise the move to another league and another set of teams.

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