When less is more

written by Erica Quam

In our busy world...everyone seems to be racing to do more, work more, get more, achieve more. Have we reached the breaking point?

  • Athletes start younger, specialize earlier, and work harder than ever before at an early age. 
  • Parents push their kids to achieve more and more - in school, in sports, & in all other areas - to lock down that elusive opportunity they may never have had. 
  • Coaches work longer hours, recruit more, travel more, and take even less time off.  
  • College programs encourage or require summer sessions - where athletes are reporting earlier each season. Which means coaches, student assistants, and support staff are also in full swing - almost year round.  

I’m all for hard work. Don’t get me wrong. I believe there are few shortcuts to success. I simply don’t believe that more time spent equals more success.

I don't like the direction we’re heading. The pace, the pressure, and the demands are insane! If it doesn’t lead to breakdown and burnout, it does lead to stress, overwhelm and unhappiness.

It’s time to change the culture.


Life is a dance - there's an ebb and flow. Some days require more work and other days less. Pay attention to what you and your athletes need. 

Focus on one thing, do it right, and make practice shorter. Look for creative ways to break up the schedule.

Instead of finding ways to up your practice time, let each practice fill you and your athletes with confidence, enthusiasm, and inspiration. Be specific, be intentional, and have fun!


Coaches are connected to cell phones, iPads, & laptops making them available to the demands of the job 24/7. To maintain your sanity set some limits! 

Take a technology timeout - every single day: 

  • Resist the urge to pick up your phone with every buzz and alert...and when you can, turn 'em off
  • Restrict when you take texts and calls...and share these hours with your team
  • Set a limit on how much web surfing you do each day...set a timer and when it goes off, your time is done

Some coaches wear "busy" like a badge of honor on their sleeve. How can we support one other and take better care of ourselves? Instead of trying to 'one up' each other in the hours you put in...challenge each other to take time off and work smarter not longer. 

Take a risk to do things differently - according to what you need. Maybe if coaches do a better job of this, more athletes will want to get into coaching!


What do you do as a coach to model balance to your team?  

  • Incorporate yoga and meditation - for you and your team. Your athletes are balancing school, sport, and their social lives. They are always under stress. Help them add this practice to their life.
  • Go get a massage. Make a regular appointment. It's not a luxury - it's a necessity. With all the stress, tension, and tightness you have you probably need someone to really dig in there to break up those trigger points!
  • Take AT LEAST a 45 minute time-out from the workday: get in a workout, read a book, write in a journal, take a walk, listen to music - do something that makes you happy and feel better!
  • Schedule a weekend off for yourself and your team each quarter
  • Schedule vacations (yes, multiple) for yourself each season

It’s about the journey, isn’t it?  It isn’t just about the results and the achievements at the end. Sure, it’s nice to achieve a goal and after it’s over, there has to be more to it.  Doesn’t it?

Life - and everything in it...including sports - is a balance between effort and letting go.  

I vote for more of the letting go!

What else could you do to take better care of you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.