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Coaches

Coaches know that many young people today grapple with mental health problems, most commonly anxiety and depression. It appears that most, if not all, struggle with confidence as well as personal and team accountability; building anything resembling old-school locker-room camaraderie or chemistry is extremely difficult under these circumstances. Naturally, these issues often play out in the locker room,  in practice, and on game day.

Many young people themselves know they have a problem. However, almost everyone is at a loss as to why this has happened or how to fix it.

It’s no one’s fault. The causes are societal and global, which not only affect children directly, they cause parents to parent differently, which exacerbates the problem. As a result, many children and adolescents today miss emotional/psychological “lessons” crucial to normal child development and so lack emotional skills that previous generations used to learn by osmosis. This is stressful, and a vicious cycle, because some of the psychological lessons kids don’t learn today are the very coping mechanisms needed to deal with this stress.

This can be perplexing to coaches, many of whom were successful in their sport in great part because of these psychological lessons! Add to this the specters of the professionalization of college sports and the transfer portal, which cast a pall over team connection, and the result is many teams where both players and coaches are unhappy and play is subpar.

Fortunately, children today are hard-wired for connection and growth the same way they have always been. In fact, they crave these things. Therefore, we can remedially teach these psychological lessons and thus dramatically improve the mental health of many of today’s student-athletes And, just as athletics throw the problems into high relief, it, with its shared goals and built-in group dynamics, also is the perfect venue to teach the lessons, and thus help players both with their sport and in life.

Some of these lessons need professional supervision while they are taught. However, other lessons involve simple, easy things coaches can do to help players to feel better, and that is what my programs for coaches emphasize.

Program

We wanted to give this program legs so coaches have the tools and support they need over time to implement some of the ideas discussed in the introductory presentation. So our program for coaches has three components:

  1. In-person program: I present an in-person introductory program that explains how we got here—the societal causes of this problem and how they have affected young people and adults. I also provide an outline of how I “soften players in order to harden them,” and how connection and vulnerability actually make for tougher players.
  2. Videos: I distribute a series of five short videos on things coaches can do on their own to help their players. Topics:
    1. Acknowledgement
    2. Respectful accountability
    3. “Controlling the Controllables”
    4. Permission to fail
    5. F.U.N.
  3. Help Desk: I am available, either in person or virtually, to answer questions about the subject matter and help coaches with particular situations or players vis-a-vis the video subject matter.

Like all of my programs, this program can easily be scaled up or down. Please feel free to contact me to discuss your school’s needs and to get more information.

Here is an article that explains my approach a bit more.