Entrepreneur. Instructor. Coach. Volunteer. Father and husband. QuickSkills owner and director Jerry Concannon wears numerous, challenging, and invaluable hats. However, he successfully manages a busy schedule that aligns with his biggest passion — coaching soccer.
He owns and operates his own coaching business, hosts camps and clinics, provides private lessons, runs programs for various clubs, coaches a girl’s high school team, fills in to help with the Olympic Development Program, and even volunteers to coach his kids’ soccer teams.
He’s a busy and inspiring man.
Fortunately, he found time to fit us into his schedule. We spoke with him to learn about what it takes to land sports coaching jobs and manage a successful career while balancing a fulfilling home life. We discovered what his day-to-day looks like, the role passion plays in his career, and so much more.
Here’s what he had to say:
The Best Parts of Sports Coaching
After working for a trucking company for a number of years after graduating college, Concannon eventually decided to return to soccer through coaching full time. He started playing soccer at five years old and continued through college. His love for the sport was just one of the many reasons he decided to make a career out of coaching:
First of all, you have to enjoy kids if you plan to coach youth sports. If you don’t, you’re starting off on the wrong foot. Personally, I enjoy being around young people. I like helping them learn and develop skills through soccer because ultimately, those skills teach them so much more about life skills.
I also love mentoring kids in terms of character development — sportsmanship, self-discipline, dealing with adversity, learning how to be a good loser and winner, goal-setting. I like that piece of the job.
I appreciate the challenge this career presents for me, as well. The process of preparing a team to compete is something I thoroughly enjoy. Designing practices to help with team building, game planning, and the fitness aspect, too — I like getting them up to speed physically to be competitive.
Given his varied professional pursuits, Concannon mentioned that there is no ‘typical’ day for him in his sports coaching jobs. They change seasonally and are impacted by the demands of the local community he serves.
He juggles his mentorships with coaches with his business planning during the spring. This consists of managing his staff and preparing them for training sessions. During summer, he runs day camps, and fall is when his high school season starts. Game nights go late, adding to his already demanding work schedule.
Finally, come winter, he hosts a few soccer clinics and immerses himself in planning ahead for the next spring, summer, and fall schedules.
Within these long days, he still manages to make time for his highest priority — his family and his personal well-being:
There are some personal themes I like to maintain within the chaos of my schedule. The main focus is carving out time to make sure I can be with my kids and my wife.
I also like to give myself designated time to stay active. Going to the gym ensures I stay healthy and fit so I can continue to do the job I love.
It’s vitally important to me to continue to develop and learn to improve myself as a coach. I believe if you expect your players to improve and develop, then it’s reasonable for them to expect you to improve yourself as a coach, as well.
While I earned as many coaching certifications as I could in this country, I still try to learn all the time. I keep soccer books on my nightstands. I stay up-to-date on several blogs, and I especially love my friend’s podcast, which includes interviews with high level coaches around the world.
The Role of Passion
For those interested in pursuing sports coaching jobs, Concannon advises that you cultivate a passion. However, you need to know how to manage your emotions when you work in this field:
Passion is a huge variable in coaching. You’re teaching athletics, which, by nature, is both a physical and emotional activity. Once you have emotion connected to this physical dimension, passion becomes interwoven with it.
This passion comes in several different forms. Determination is a specific kind. It drives you to continue to work and improve how you do things. However, passion can also take on a more negative form if emotions take over.
People often describe me as composed. It’s in my nature to keep my emotions in check. This level of control gives me a clear head.
There are many coaches who just scream and yell at their players the whole game. I call this joysticking. These coaches are manipulating players and controlling their decisions during the game, when they really need to learn to make decisions on their own.
Stepping back and keeping your emotions and passion in check when you compete helps you coach and manage unexpected situations better.
Passion plays a huge role in how you perform during a competition, but also long after the game. Sometimes you experience emotional distractions.
Physical distractions might be a light going off or a loud sound. It’s a brief disruption that you can overcome quickly. On the other hand, emotional distractions take longer to recover from. They run deeper.
For example, a player gets injured, or you’re embarrassed by a loss, or a parent is mad at you. These things linger because they’re connected to your passion. You’re so emotionally invested in the game, the sport, the players, it can take a toll on other areas of your life.
However, when you come home from a hard loss and your five-year-old comes running up to you in the driveway, you need to know how to switch that light off and focus on being the best dad you can be.
The Human Element is Key
Finding success in sports coaching jobs requires more than just knowledge of the game and a love for the sport. There is a human side that is absolutely essential to recognize and nurture.
Concannon mentioned that building a connection is tough in the different areas you might find sports coaching jobs. For example, at his clinics, he has less time with the players. Therefore, he has to establish rapport quicker to really connect with them. This helps players open up and learn better.
The best piece of advice I have is you need to remember that you’re not just coaching your sport. You’re coaching people.
I’m not coaching soccer. That’s the avenue I’m coaching in. I’m actually coaching kids. I’m teaching human beings.
Too many coaches look at their players as pawns on a chess board. Tools they use to get a result. They hurt the game and the players with this mentality.
There’s a saying in the coaching world: “athletes won’t care what you know until they know that you care.”
The Best Way to Start
Concannon also added more practical advice for everyone interested in sports coaching
- Make time for your family because the coaching schedule is way different. When you’re working, nobody else is.
- Be flexible with your schedule. Always expect unexpected things to happen.
- Be personable. If you don’t have a great personality, it’s incredibly hard to coach. Even if it doesn’t come naturally, you can put yourself into situations that further develop this skill.
- Continually learn and develop yourself as a coach. Make sure you know the sport, but also focus on the psychology aspect. Learning how to motivate people is vital.
- Understand that your schedule will be rough. But on the flipside, coaching is incredibly rewarding. It’s all worth it. Despite all the challenges, it can be very fulfilling. You will build relationships with players that last a lifetime.
If you have the passion and the ability to manage stressful schedules and long work days, then coaching is perfect for you.
What motivates you to find sports coaching jobs? Share in the comments!