The sporting community has increased their understanding and empathy towards the individual athlete. They clearly recognize the importance of ensuring our young people are well, healthy and happy. Over the past six years we have been encouraged to see organizations and teams invite mental health into their programming with a tremendous focus on helping the individual high performing athlete. We have become increasingly aware of a desire to ‘flag’ individual athletes—to find a way to let organizations know when their athletes are struggling or feeling mentally unwell. They do this because they want to help.
When we reach a group we have the power to reach the individuals within.
First and foremost the individual is important. We certainly need to keep our minds on helping the individual. However, a mere shift in perspective on how we do that could be incredibly impactful.
If you consider a team of 20+ athletes, the attention needed, the time and commitment to reach each and every one of them can seem overwhelming. What if you could create relationships with each and every one of your athletes by showing them who you are and how much they are valued?
I assure you, they are watching.
As coaches, you have the opportunity to model a willingness to communicate about mental health in sports on a grand scale. An openness to discuss challenging events and difficult subjects demonstrates a new normal where we don’t have to hide behind a smile or go along with things we may not support. When you show your athletes that you can talk about stress, pressure, struggles in relationships, anxiety and even sadness you are showing you embrace them as complex individuals.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
As I said, your athletes are watching. They are paying attention to you and learning more from you than Xs and Os.
You have the power to show them that being a kind person matters, that caring about each other matters, that supporting the person also supports the athlete.
In doing so, you are showing that each and every one of them matter. You are setting the stage for them to know your door is open whether they are coming in for a laugh or coming in because you have demonstrated that you, in fact, are someone they can go to when they need support - when they need help.
You are demonstrating leadership and that builds trust with your athletes.
While we continue to encourage all organizations, teams and coaches to remain focused on the individual athlete, we embolden you to exercise your reach to the many young people you have been charged with leading.
In creating a safe space within your team, you are reaching each and every athlete who is lucky enough to be a part of your team.
Support your athlete with hone
Sport puts major emphasis on developing the physical skill of athletes yet little emphasis on developing an athlete’s ability to manage the different stressors that contribute to their overall wellness. Mental health can affect the athletic performance of any athlete. Don’t let unknown levels of stress keep your team from greatness.
At HONE, we built a digital platform to help nurture healthier, happier and better-performing athletes. We are currently offering free info sessions to discover how HONE can work for your organization. Sign-up below.