Life as a Volunteer Coach; time commitment and personal sacrifices (part 4)

There are thousands of us around the World that give up countless hours each week to coach our beloved sports.  Governing bodies are continually aiming to recruit more male and female coaches and rely heavily on the commitment of these coaches to volunteer and develop their sport at the grassroots levels.   In our new feature ‘Life as a Volunteer Coach’, we explore the ups and downs, the demands and the glory of being one of these unpaid sports coaches.  We asked 7 coaches from the UK and the US all kinds of questions ranging from how much time they spend coaching, what sacrifices they make in their everyday life’s and how much coaching costs them each month.  Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing their very honest answers with you all.

It would be great to hear about your experiences also, so please join in by adding your own answers in the comment boxes below!

To meet the 7 coaches sharing their stories CLICK HERE



In this blog, we asked our coaches this question; How much time do you commit to your coaching each week and what sacrifices do you have to make in your personal life to fit it all in?


Emma – Football, UK

Emma Marlow Profile photoMy main coaching hours are a Thursday evening, but I also make plans on the Tuesday or Wednesday before hand which can take quite a while.  I do a lot of research of drills and sessions etc on youtube and the internet to get ideas.  Sometimes that does take me quite a bit of time.

This does mean that I then miss out on seeing friends and family.  Sometimes on a Thursday my work has social meetings and they will go out for dinner but I know I always have to coach, so I have missed out on a few of those.  I do sometimes feel like I am missing out before the session starts; everyone in the office saying things like ‘oh why aren’t you coming out’, why cant you miss coaching this week?’ …sometimes that does put a downer on things, but once I get to a session and talk to the girls and discuss how their week has been at school, it makes it all worthwhile in the end.



Liane – Football, UK

LianeIt’s still early days for me as I have only been doing this for a couple of months, there is an element of getting up early on a Sunday – which is quite difficult! You have to think about what you will be doing to prepare for it on the Saturday.  Coaching hasn’t held me back so far, it does inhibit you a little – you have partners and families and things you want to do on a Sunday, but football has always been a big part of my life and I am now dedicating my time to the coaching of it.  So for the moment, its not massively different from when I played on a Sunday.  At the moment I am not actually teaching at a school, I have a 9-5 job, so when I do go back to teaching, it will be interesting to see how coaching will fit in with that – as there is always extra pressure as teacher to work at home, or in the evening.  That is a concern in the back of my head as to how I will be able to do both.  I have gone into coaching recently as this has been when I have had the most time to dedicate to it, but I don’t know how it will work when I start teaching again and there are not set hours.  Coaching is a difficult thing to dedicate time to.



Robyn – Ultimate Frisbee, USA

rOBYN PHOTOI am very fortunate.  I work in the public sector and in the States, those of us that work for the state government don’t necessarily get paid a lot of money, but we get a lot of vacations and a lot of flexibly with leave time from work.  Travelling for Ultimate, I sometimes have to take days or afternoons off.  Having a lot of vocation time at my disposal is so great.  One of our upper level mangers is also a coach, so he is really understanding of the commitments that it takes to coach a team.

I view my social life as Ultimate, so if I’m not coaching, I’m playing! I am really lucky to have a close relationship with my assistant coach so I can have fun with them.  My husband also coaches with me on the youth team – so we spend a lot of time together doing something that we love!

I do wish I could be around for my niece more often and see her grow and develop, as well as my 13 year old nephew who plays baseball.  I would love to watch more of his tournaments.  My parents are pretty understanding too.  None of my immediate family lives in the same city, so we don’t see each other everyday anyway.  FaceTime has been great for my niece to know what I look like!

My husbands family is a lot bigger than mine and I know he wishes he could attend his family events more.  Our families are super supportive when we miss out on things!



Wendy – Hockey, UK

WENDY RUSSELLI miss out on socialising with friends a lot.  My close friends know that from September through to March they don’t see me that often.  It is a juggling act and you do have to manage your time.  There is so much more around the 7 1/2 hours a week you actually coach, the players email you, you give them feedback and talk to them outside of it….etc

You do have to be really passionate about what you do as a coach and hope that your friends also understand that! My family totally understand too! I do have friends that aren’t into hockey at all, they are sporty but they don’t understand it all – they often say ‘but you give up so much time?!”…they all know that I love what I do then.  They check in everyone and again to see if I’m still alive!  Sleep seems to go as well!


Michelle – Cycling, UK

MICHELLE PAGETHaving a family and kids and a full time job I defo have to schedule planning time etc very carefully. Although I work in a bike shop and ride bikes a lot I am also very aware that I am sometimes at risk of  live, eat and breath bikes (I do love it though).  I schedule and evening a week where I sit and do paperwork Risk Assessment, Session Plans, Rider register Admin etc. I do secretly enjoy it and I like to research the cycling techniques and use info on web and other coaches to help me plan and prepare and gain ideas for the sessions.  I do miss out on socialising, although I do LOVE bikes so its not so much of a chore as my social time would be spent either riding or thinking about bikes anyway.



Jill – Cycling, UK

Jill eccelstonOver the last few years my coaching has gone from a few hours voluntary to become my full time job.  I have always loved sport and now for some bits I get paid for doing it this seems like a dream.  Occasionally I miss out on socialising, but now I have school holidays off with my kids the odd weekend or development opportunity is worth taking the time out for.