Athlete Mental Health: How to Keep Your Athlete Mentally Healthy
Athlete mental health has become a topic of conversation even more after the life changes of 2020. So, as #thebestsportsmomever, how do you keep your athlete mentally healthy?
Before I get to that, (and don't worry, it's one paragraph away!) Want to guess my favorite rooms in Clubhouse? In case you didn’t know, the Clubhouse App is one of the fastest growing social platforms where people from all over the world get together to have conversations. It’s part podcast, part-radio show.
Anyway - my favorite rooms are the “coaching” rooms. The rooms filled with current and former athletes. In them, brilliant minds meet to discuss building quality team cultures. These rooms consider the emotional and mental health of our athletes - not just how kids perform.
Coaches can address athlete mental health.
We talk about mental toughness and the attitudes around it. I listened and contributed to discussions about how “toughness” is often misinterpreted by coaches and athletes. Mental toughness in high-pressure situations is a lot like courage when facing a threat. It’s not that we aren’t afraid, it’s that we still act in spite of the fear. In stressful game situations, it’s not that mentally-tough athletes don’t doubt their ability or fear failure - but that they trust their training and are willing to try even though it’s hard.
I love how this performance coach described it:
“True mental toughness is pliability and flexibility.”
I’ve also sat in rooms as we shared stories of watching athletes who play “in the zone.” It’s magical to watch - when an individual or team is competing together at their highest level. Other times I’ve seen "it" while watching off-Broadway musicals - I’ve observed it in orchestra. No matter the art, there’s nothing like watching talented individuals perform at their best.
We can reframe every loss and victory as a metaphor for success in life - and improve athlete mental health.
However, we know that in sports there is always the victor on top and the loser on the bottom. We don’t like to hear words like loser, lost, or failure. Especially when it pertains to our kids. So I have loved hearing how elite coaches and athletes frame the negative lessons of sports. How coaches (and you as a parent) can help an athlete bounce back after a poor performance, an untimely turnover or painful loss.
An expert in athlete mindset, Bryn Drescher, said it this way:
“Clarify the difference between fault and responsibility.”
We have to separate the mistake, the error, the miscalculation - we have to separate these efforts from the individual. Athletes make mistakes.
Athletes are not their mistakes.
This month I want to explore the mental health challenges experienced by athletes over the last year. I want to share with you some of the insights I have had the pleasure to absorb from top coaches across the nation.
Conversations about purpose beyond sports and separating our athletes from linking external validation and their intrinsic values. How can they use this time of off-and-on quarantine to improve?
Yes, coaches have deep thoughts about your kids and athlete mental health. And we are all concerned about how they are feeling about the last year and the future.
I hope you’ll join me over the next few weeks as I share these snippets of conversation. One of my favorite insights was from an athlete playing basketball professionally overseas, Josh Young.