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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Coaching From the Sidelines


What I learned from playing football


In 1991, I simultaneously began life coaching while starting to play football for Valleyview Junior High School. A resident of a children’s home, one of the house parents recommended I participate in the sport so that I could direct my anger through constructive means.


I don’t fault the seemingly well-intentioned house mother for her error in judgement, perceivably believing that being able to physically assault other boys may’ve resolved symptoms of childhood trauma. After all, acting out aggression was a key component of some psychotherapeutic modalities of yesteryear.


The strategy of projecting onto others one’s unresolved self-disturbance, and then hitting the physical manifestation of one’s ire as hard as possible, comprehensibly could work under specific circumstances. However, the conditions to which I was exposed weren’t conducive to appropriate symptom resolution.


Namely, I didn’t know about the ABC model of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) and how a belief-consequence connection suggests causation of one’s ability to self-disturb. In specific, I was unaware of the fact that my irrational beliefs, and not childhood trauma, were what caused the anger I experienced.


I’ve long since used unconditional acceptance to resolve those issues of the past. Nevertheless, I learned some invaluable lessons from my eighth and ninth grade football experience (Randall High School).


First, I learned that I was ignorant about the sport of football. Although I’d grown up admiring famous football players, I had no idea about the rules of gameplay or other matters related to the sport.


Second, I learned that people will go to extreme lengths to participate in something they love. As an example, I witnessed children who I retroactively understand exhibited signs of head injury though refused to give up when their teammates relied on them.


Third, I learned that bullying from coaches and team members wasn’t conducive to comradery associated with my personal worldview. Apparently, some people thrive when ostensibly being abused while others don’t value the process as much.


Lastly, I learned the benefit of having access to a coaching staff that seemed to maintain a genuine interest in player development—at least for the A team players and not as much for those of us on the B team. Without a coach to direct individual and team development, most players would’ve likely underperformed as much as the B team did.


Coaching from the sidelines


I took the useful lessons learned from playing football and incorporated them into my own approach to life coaching in the ‘90s. When in the military and serving in post-military government positions, I honed my coaching skills.


In 2011, I earned a Master of Arts in Counseling degree while dividing my coaching experience into psychotherapeutic practice. In 2014, I earned a Master of Science in Social Work degree as I continued focus on coaching and therapy.


Since transitioning into clinical practice, having established Hollings Therapy, LLC in 2021, I’ve used the coaching lessons from both childhood and adulthood to help improve the level of functioning and quality of life for the clients I serve. The goal is to help people get better, promoting A team player status in the game of life.


I do this by showing people how to play the game through in-session practice. This experience is a lot like daily after school practices when I played football. It was grueling work back then and it’s a challenging process now.


Although there is a degree of realism involved in practice, actual gameplay is conducted outside of practice. For example, when I played football, the A team would play the B team during scrimmages—simulated games.


Lessons were learned about each player’s strengths and weaknesses. As well, the team was assessed for its ability to function as a unit. This is how I conduct clinical practice in many sessions with clients, as well.


When playing football, lessons from afterschool practices were applied when facing challenges offered by opposing teams. Likewise, clients apply lessons learned through in-session practice to their daily lives. This is mostly associated with negotiated homework designed to challenge clients as a means of affording opportunities for growth.


As was the case for Valleyview and Randall staff, coaches don’t actively participate in gameplay on game days. They may indirectly assist, though they coach from the sidelines.


This places the impetus for success or failure mostly on the players. I say “mostly,” because—just as was the case when I played football—some degree of personal ownership for practice behavior and actual gameplay is assumed by coaches.


In the case of psychotherapy, I’m responsible for ensuring that clients comprehend REBT. Whether or not they trust the model or incorporate the technique is up to them. Understanding, belief, and practice are the keys to success, as I take ownership for the comprehension element.


Nonetheless, it’s up to clients to play the game. Each person with whom I work is invited to actively engage in gameplay outside of practice. All the while, I coach from the sidelines.


If a client chooses not to show up for practice—whether physically or psychologically—such behavior may affect gameplay. Likewise, if people unhelpfully determine that use of REBT techniques isn’t necessary on game day, I’m not accountable for forfeiture of a game by a player who doesn’t even show up.


Moreover, I don’t assume ownership of an outcome when players show up at a game though sit on the field without even playing. My sole function as a life coach is to assist with understanding, practice in-session, and coaching from the sidelines.


For matters of full disclosure—and despite the fact that a number of my mental, emotional, and behavioral health care colleagues refuse to use such verbiage—not everyone will win on game day. There are failures inherent in life, just as suffering is virtually guaranteed.


However, if one seeks to improve performance by getting better through practice and increasing skills to the level of an A team, I’m here to help. Are you searching for a psychotherapist that may assist you in improving your performance?


If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW




Hollings, D. (2022, November 18). Big T, little t. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

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Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, May 18). Irrational beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 7). Personal ownership. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, March 20). Practice. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, September 15). Psychotherapeutic modalities. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 24). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 9). The ABC model. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, December 25). The B-C connection. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, July 11). Unconditional acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2024, January 16). Understanding, belief, and practice. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

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