| | | Valentine For A Coach

Author / Matthew Zanis

How many nights has your significant other come home late, exhausted, and silent? He or she kicks their shoes off, plops down on the couch, and starts scrolling through Game of Thrones episodes. Or, maybe they sit on the other end of the spectrum and come home full of energy, bouncing off the walls, trying to talk to you about the intricacies of sprint mechanics and how they have the next Barry Sanders on their hands. They can’t wait to sit down and start programming out that athlete’s next 6 week cycle.

Perhaps you see this excitement and energy, and ask yourself “why can’t they share that same love and devotion with me?!” 

You can’t take being a coach’s significant other lightly. Being a coach, a really good coach, takes a lot of time and energy. Most coaches not only invest their time, but also their hearts. Sometimes this leaves us drained. Other times, we are so excited that all we want to do is talk about work. The peaks and valleys of a coach’s career can take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. 

Here are the main things you need to know about being in a relationship with a coach!


You know how much coaches get paid? Almost nothing. For most, coaching is not just a job, it’s a passion. At the core of a coach’s life is their purpose to help others. As humans, we should be driven by a purpose in life; this purpose serves as a foundation from which we base our decision making, and establishes our core values and belief system. With this, we become centered and focused. Everything in life, from a coach’s career, to their personal relationships, needs to be aligned with their purpose if they are to have coherence and integrity in the world. Their purpose is their priority, and their priority is their mission. If you assist them in their mission, they will gravitate towards you, instead of distancing themselves from you. Truly strive to understand their passion. That’s called empathy, and it is the difference between executive level brain thinking, and actually feeling with your heart. Your brain may build relationships, but the heart keeps you connected.

A huge word of advice: the more your partner perceives you as a limit in their life, the less they will be interested in relationship with you. Our human souls will always want freedom. The more you liberate your partner, and free them to pursue what their current mission or goal is in life, the more they will find you indispensable and irresistible. You will become the main source of light and love in their life.


Even if you are in the same profession as your partner, you likely enjoy different things in life beyond coaching athletes. Watching athletes grind through tough workouts and analyzing movement doesn’t have to get your fire burning. You don’t have to love all the same things as your significant other in order to have a healthy relationship. You just need to support them in their interests without sacrificing your own wants and needs. 

Most significant others tend to sit on the proverbial sideline, watching their partner from a distance, occasionally cheerleading with a few words of support and encouragement. They may even feel obligated to neglect their own hobbies in order to “please” your partner.  This is a passive strategy and the lack of involvement can lead to resentment and broken communication; both of which can destroy a previously loving relationship. 

Instead, champion their efforts. Lift them up. And, you need to mean it. Don’t bullshit them and later go complain to your friends. Work hard and be your authentic self. Hoping for a successful relationship is not a strategy. Establish your values/goals as a couple, and then commit and pursue them. Accept responsibility for mistakes, take initiative where needed, and use your values to determine your decisions in life. Act, rather than be acted on, by the coaching environment.


If your partner is going to have any chance of succeeding as a coach, you need to understand what it takes to get there. Understand that they will be spending a large amount of time away from you. These can be difficult waters to navigate, but you shouldn’t hold it against them. When committed to a purpose, every moment with family and friends spent away from work is now meaningful. These moments should be treasured, because it’s about the quality time over quantity of time spent with your partner. Every moment waited is a moment wasted, and each wasted moment degrades your partner’s clarity and purpose as a coach.

Be present in those moments, no matter how little. As long as your relationship lasts, the challenge is to be engaged, play, and love those special moments. 


How many times have you “zoned out” on your partner when they are trying to talk to you about their day? Coaches understand the importance of good communication in order to get their athletes to move a certain way, or to motivate them to attack the barbell. Clear and direct communication is also absolutely essential for a healthy relationship. There’s nothing more appealing than an empowered individual who can confidently communicate what they need – both physically, emotionally and spiritually. Many relationships struggle because of a breakdown in communication when one, or both individuals involved, assumes that one should know what the other wants. We all know what assuming does…

Instead, ask questions and actually listen to their answers. Make eye contact, acknowledge them, and reiterate part of their story in your response. This will communicate presence and make your partner feel heard and understood. 

How much of yourself are you sharing with your partner? How much are you holding back? To what extent do you hide parts of who your are in order to “fit in” and not come off as demonstrating qualities you think your partner finds unappealing? I’m asking these questions because we often tend to brush parts of ourselves under the rug in fear of scaring our partner away.  Coaches have many inherent good qualities including empathy, strong leadership skills, and the ability to communicate, but their are also negative aspects of the career, including high levels of stress. Embrace and love ALL of your partner – the good, the bad and the downright fucking ugly.

Master Your Movement: Love 

Your job isn’t to be critical. You’re not a coach. You don’t know all the gritty details of what’s going on with their athletes, the gym, coaching staff, or parents. So, don’t act like you do. What you can do, though, is listen. Be the light, help look at the bright side when your partner is noticeably frustrated and stressed, and provide third party perspective. The benefit of not being too close to the situation is that you see things differently. Not as a coach, andnot as a athlete. This is extremely valuable.

Like everything else in life, there will be ups and downs. Every moment in your life is either a test or a celebration. The same is true about every moment with your partner. Their simple existence as a coach is a test for you, and as long as you aren’t moved off course by their challenge, your relationship will strengthen, grow, and flourish through adversity. This will truly allow you to celebrate the small victories that would have previously gone unnoticed. 

Above all, keep breathing. Keep your attention present. Always give love, no matter what. Transform each occasion (good or bad) through the lens of love. If all else fails, give your partner a hug. Press your belly into theirs and smile. This helps stimulate the vagus nerve (and many other nerves in the abdomen), producing a stronger connection between you and your partner.

Deep communication, rejuvenating passion, unwavering support, and spiritual happiness are the main features of any healthy relationship, not just one with a coach. How will you and your partner continue to grow without getting stuck in the rut of mediocrity? Keep these things in mind, and in the end, you will both arrive at the same destination. 


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Matthew Zanis

PT, DPT, FAAOMPT, OCS, ATC, CSCS Former baseball catcher and an avid outdoorsman. Worked with Division 1 basketball, football, and track and field at the University of Pittsburgh, along with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Cardinals organizations. Received a Bachelors in Athletic Training from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011 and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Duke University in 2014. Is board certified in Orthopedics and a Fellow through the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists. Is a PT with the United States Olympic Committee and USA Shooting. Currently operates his performance therapy practice in Scottsdale, AZ with Dr. Tom Incledon of Causenta Wellness, and became a Power Athlete Block One Coach in September of 2017.

Dr. Zanis utilizes the Power Athlete Methodology to optimize performance, reduce injury risk, and rehab his clients and athletes through movement assessment, coaching, and individualized program design.

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