Changing roles after coaching can be a challenge

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

After four years as coach of the Dallas Cowboys and a total of 19 years as an NFL head coach, Bill Parcells abruptly announced this week that he is leaving the team and retiring. An associate professor of sport psychology with the Center for Sport Psychology and Performance Excellence at the University of North Texas says the demands of coaching can make it a challenge to "move on" to other opportunities.

Dr. Scott Martin says anyone playing a specific role for a long period may have difficulties transitioning out of that role, whether the person believes it is the right time or someone else made that choice for the person.

"A high profile coach such as Bill Parcells will have many other opportunities or roles that may be associated with coaching and leadership, including transferable skills that provide him an opportunity to get into broadcasting. In a year, someone of his stature, if healthy, may decide to go back into coaching," Martin says.

Martin adds a coach may believe he or she has accomplished everything he or she can or may feel like he or she is stagnant or in a rut - for example, feeling tired of the current situation with owners and/or players.

"A healthy transition or retirement from a sport is related to three factors: the cause of career termination, such as age, termination, injury or health or free choice; adaptation skills and ability, such as personal control, social identity and financial dependence or independence; and available resources for adaptation to transition, such as coping strategies, social support, and pre-retirement planning," Martin says.

Once a new coach is appointed to replace a coach who has left, Martin says teams experience a transition period that may go smoothly for some players, but not for others.

"When a coach leaves, the team cohesion and chemistry, or lack thereof, usually changes. A new dynamic coach with winning experience coming into the situation may be able to quickly get players excited about the future of the team," he says.

Martin points out the timing of Parcells' resignation is important.

"Doing this now, prior to the Super Bowl, will draw some of the media attention to the Cowboys," he says.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

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