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How Could Sports Coaches Avoid Workaholism?

December 13, 2012 - Posted by

Recently, Kelly Lumpkin from Lee University and Mark Anshel from Middle Tennessee State University published a study about work addiction among college sports coaches¹.  They interviewed 16 NCAA Division 1 sport coaches from the USA.

At bottom, workaholism is not a really positive thing. Although it is sometimes considered as a respectable addiction, it is manifested in low productivity, poor relationships, and serious health problems.

Work addiction is reflected by obsessive compel to work, people feel an increased pressure to perform, and to do it well. More specifically, workaholics aim high and make heavy demands on their job, along with inability to regulate their work habits. They tend to overindulge in work to the exclusion of most other aspects of a balanced life. Bryan E. Robinson has identified four types of work addicts²:

Bulimic workaholics
resemble bulimic people who engage in binge eating and purging behavior. For work life this means that they over-commit but also procrastinate from beginning a task because they are afraid of not completing it perfectly. Bulimic workaholics worry a lot. Therefore, they tend to either do it perfectly or not at all.

Relentness workaholic has problems with both impulsivity and compulsivity, difficulties with saying no, priority setting and delegating responsibilities. Such people find their job to be the most important thing in their life. In general, although being perfectionistic, relentness workaholics often work so quickly that they make careless mistakes.

An attention-deficit workaholic is someone with in constant search for stimulation. Such people like chaotic and risky situations, such as can be found in competitive sport. They may have problems with staying focused on current projects, and move on to new things before the previous task has been finished. Moreover, such coaches sometimes even create a crisis in order to boost their own adrenaline. As a result, they have difficulty in completing projects on time and they often overlook details.

Savoring workaholics work over details to the point of paralysis. They work slowly and systematically, create additional work whenever they get close to finishing a task. In addition, such people believe that no one could do the job as well as they could. For those people, teamwork creates trouble.


The coaches interviewed by Lumpkin and Anhel revealed four distinctive aspects of work addiction in sports coaching:

  • Firstly, their job consumes most of their time and energy, also at the expenses of their family life. Most coaches said that their time was consumed primarily by their working activities, they have relatively few social activities, no hobbies. They also avoid personal relationships unrelated to their coaching position while working long hours throughout the year, both during and between seasons. On average, this means working 80 hours per week.
  • Secondly, coaches have a very limited personal life, reflecting a poor balance between different areas of life. It has also been shown previously that factors such as work hours, travel, and work schedules are major sources of work and life conflict, and have a negative influence on quality of life in coaches³.
  • Thirdly, coaches don’t see their intensive work load as a negative aspect of their job. In the opposite, they believe that an excessive work load is a natural part of their job and necessary for team success.
  • Fourthly- last but not least – coaches consider time management skills and multi-tasking as necessary for their successful functioning.

Systematic use of training planning and workout management technology is a perfect aid for efficient time management. Implement a system for autonomous logging of training load, rapid data analysis and easy sharing of training plans – this will all help you save your valuable working time. Perhaps even more vital for coaches who – without a doubt – tend to have rather high expectations, delegate as many tasks as possible to technology to find time for more balanced family life and social relationships outside of everyday working environment.

¹ Lumpkin, K. & Anshel, M.H. (2012). Work addiction among intercollegiate sports coaches. Journal of Sport Behavior, 35.

² Robinson, B. E. (2000). A typology of workaholics with implications for counselors. Journal of Addictions & Offender Counseling, 21, 34-49.

³ Mazerolle, S.M.,  Pitney, W.A., Casa, D.J., & Pagnotta, K. (2011). Assessing strategies to manage work and life balance of athletic trainers working in the national Collegiate Athletic Association Division I setting. Journal of Athletic Training , 46, 194–205.


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