There is no doubt that mental health is incredibly important, perhaps now more than ever in the return to sport. As athletes get back to tryouts we need coaches to take the lead when it comes to being a source of support throughout the process. We need coaches to create environments in which athletes can flourish, even before they've made the team.
This year, tryouts may be unlike those in the past — both athletes and coaches may show up differently. Athletes who tend to thrive on routine, rituals, and preparedness (all of which have been radically challenged over the past year) may be a little rusty, nervous, or unsure. Coaches, accustomed to the habitual routines of tryouts, are going to be required to proceed in a manner they have never before experienced.
In order to give athletes a more well-rounded and positive experience, the people who control and set the tone around the environment our athletes exist in have the opportunity to create a sporting environment and culture where they feel comfortable and safe. Tryouts are a time of great stress and pressure on any given year. Take the time as leaders in sport, to re-evaluate and consider what kind of environment you would like to create.
It is the responsibility of those of us who love sport, those of us who champion our athletes, to provide them with a space that delivers exactly what we expect of them. A place where they can feel connection and support.
How to support athletes during tryouts
As the season begins, athletes are going to be nervous and even unsure of where their ability after such a strange year. They will have a far greater chance to excel when the environment is supportive and encouraging. Take a moment and set the stage for top performance and a great experience by considering the following:
- What culture am I creating during tryouts?
- Am I making this an enjoyable experience for the athletes?
- Am I creating a place where my athletes look forward to being?
- Is this a place where they can exhale?
- Where they can get a break from the challenges of school, home, challenges that have been brought on by Covid?
And let’s go one step further:
- Is the team culture I am creating contributing to healthy mental wellness in my athletes?
As leaders in the sporting community, we must be the champions we expect our athletes to be. Take the time to create a space, a safe space, where they can grow and develop in all factions of their lives. And watch your athletes thrive as a result.