How to balance a full time job and football – With Guest Great Britain Player
British American Football does not yet have a professional game status. Therefore, all players taking part in the game play alongside their full-time jobs, or their studies purely for the love of the game.
Juggling football with full-time work, family and every-day household jobs isn’t an easy balance.
The professional paid athlete certainly won’t have it easy each day, but they’ll have access to nutritionists, therapists, are able to rest throughout the day and spend plenty of time studying their playbook. Far from the lives of those in amateur leagues!
So how are the guys in the the Premiership and in team GB attaining such high performance on field despite grinding 9-5 at work, 5 days per week?
The Work-Family-Football Balance
Former GB player (2000-2017) Kevin Keohane,who played starting left tackle for the Great Britain Lions and London Warriors, was kind enough to speak to me about his experiences managing the balance of life/football which he likes to feel he has in hand ‘after so many years of getting it so wrong’.
Family and Friends
Kevin told me that spending time with those you care about is the key to having a well balanced football life. He gives tips on how he got around it:
- Schedule – Maximise what you do with your family when you have free time and no football commitments.
- Adjust – Be prepared to make sacrifices when the season arrives, but this doesn’t mean you can’t socialise or have fun. In fact, using an evening out with the family might be the perfect way to relax, but it could mean tweaking a few things that you would normally do in the off-season. For example, choosing a healthier option when out for dinner, or saying no to a glass or beer/wine before the ‘6am start to drive 4 hours to your game the next morning.’ Kevin suggests that sometimes running around the park or going swimming with the family is ideal to help you recover and feel less sore.
It’s unlikely that football will pay the bills, so holding down a job is essential. Here is how GB athlete Kevin suggests managing the work-football balance.
- Schedule – ‘make your training/gym sessions as important as if they were meetings for work. Put them in your diary/planner as you would any other important event.’ This will prevent you skipping a session if you ‘just don’t feel like it’.
- Prepare – Meal prep for the week ahead, or even just the next day so you’re not wasting valuable time preparing a meal or reaching for a snack you really shouldn’t be. Get your gym kit ready the day before and have your workout planned for when you hit the gym. ‘The old cliches are the best “Failure to prepare equals preparing to fail”.’
- Don’t skip – Don’t skip a planned workout. ‘Even it is doing what i call a “punch the clock” workout, get in, do what is required and get home. Some days it might just be a 20 minute HIIT session at 6am, or a 10 set squat workout at 11pm. Each session doesn’t have to be a 2 hour marathon session. Something is better than nothing’.
I love this last point. As an athlete who is training on the field as well as in the gym, during the football season it is unnecessary to put in 2 hour gym sessions 2+ times a week. With careful planning you can develop a programme to maintain and develop your strength in a simple 45 minute session, allowing you to get on with the rest of your life and also recover fully. Remember, sometimes less is more!
Learning the playbook
For Kevin, learning the playbook was easy – no doubt because of his years of experience in the game! But, for those with limited hours to learn it, he suggests writing the playbook out again and again. This he found is the best way to memorise each assignment for each position in each play.
His biggest tip is to ‘know your enemy’. ‘If you play OL, learn defensive fronts and schemes. If you play DL, learn OL blocking schemes. This way you will best understand how the play will develop upon what everyone’s job is.’
Finding time for body maintenance
Kevin advises to work on any on-going issues during a warm up prior to lifting or football training. He would also keep a mini band, lacrosse ball and roller in his bedroom to allow for a quick session upon waking up or prior to going to bed.
If there are any bigger problems then Kevin advises seeking professional treatment to allow for a prompt return to the game.
Thanks to Kevin Keohane for his insight into managing the work/life/football balance. Remember no one is perfect. Kevin says he hasn’t always followed his own rules but when he does he ‘ends up with the best results.’