Mental Health – Biggest Enemy of Athletes and Coaches

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Developing mental health is an absolute goldmine for improving performance, competition results, and well-being. Find out more!
meditation pose

In order to perform at your best, you need your mental and physical health to harmonize with each other.

Not paying attention to mental health is one of the biggest mistakes most athletes and coaches face in their careers.

It is a huge red flag if you desire to become one of the best!

How important it is to develop your mental health?

Let’s find out!

What is mental health?

Mental health is a state of well-being in which a person realizes his or her abilities, copes with the stresses of everyday life, and is able to work effectively and contribute to society.

Whatever you do, how you connect with the world around you, or how balanced your life is, it’s all depending on your mental health.

What can you do as a coach

As a coach, it is very important to pay attention to mental health problems and catch these issues early. The goal isn’t to pressure your athlete to go see a shrink or push them to “fix” their mental health.

Start with a conversation and try to get to the bottom of the problem. Sometimes a good conversation can go a long way.

warning signs of mental health issues
Source of the image

If the problems are quite obvious and the athlete can’t handle that situation on their own, then it’s time to step in and take some action. 

Basic knowledge you need as a coach

During your journey of becoming a coach, you’ll go through training, where they teach you about human psychology.

This will be useful if you run into similar situations during your coaching career. Not every athlete is brave enough to notice this kind of problem themselves.

It takes a lot of courage and wisdom to notice your mental health. The best thing you can do as a coach is to be aware and notice their body language and how they act around people and on their own.

How can you help your athlete

The best thing is to start off with a conversation, to see where they’re at emotionally.

In a lot of cases usually talking helps a lot, if the problems aren’t very deep. If the problems haven’t gone away after your talk then you may have just only scratched the service with your athlete.

These days in sports, there are a lot more sports psychiatrists willing to help when needed.

Just have a conversation about the possibility of consulting with a psychiatrist with your athlete. But definitely don’t push them to do anything they don’t feel comfortable doing.

What can you do as an athlete

As an athlete, it’s really important to listen to your body and not overdoing everything.

Setting SMART goals can really help you remain control over your mental health.

smart goals guide
Guide for setting SMART goals

Sometimes the imbalance in your mental health comes from stress if you haven’t found a perfect balance between school and training or work and training.

This will definitely cause some problems and affect your mental health.

How can you help yourself

The best way to deal with it is to be open and surround yourself with people who actually want to be in your life.

Definitely talk to someone whenever you have a problem with something or someone, don’t bottle up your emotions.

Because all this bottling up can lead to serious problems and can even end up causing an injury.

Source of the image

Always take your mental health seriously. I know it can be hard but try to find help,  but sooner is always better than later.

Being in the public eye and not talking about mental health

It’s unfortunate that not every athlete talks about mental health as a part of their life.

Somehow all they talk about is their dieting, training program, dealing with stress but never dealing with mental health.

They all know how important it is but not important enough to speak about it.

Given today’s world where social media is a huge thing, it’s important to speak about it and to give your followers/fans comfort that everyone has struggled with their mental illnesses from time to time.

The connection between your mental and physical condition

Every athlete is pressured to become the absolute best. This can lead to overlooking their psychological health and solely focusing on their physical condition.

The research was done in 2016, where they studied collegiate athletes. In this research, they found out that 27% of females and 21% of male collegiate athletes suffer from being too depressed to function properly.

What happens if you don’t take care of your mental health

Mental health doesn’t only affect your performance. It can affect your health in general.

The biggest challenge is to notice when an athlete is struggling. There are cases, where the cause of an injury isn’t a physical trauma but an emotional one.

It’s not that rare that when an athlete has some kind of injury, the reason can be stress and nothing surgical.

So instead of going to different doctors and struggling with it for years, all, you might need is to talk with a professional.

Mental health over physical health

Let’s put it like that. You can’t ride your car without an engine, or you can’t build a house without foundation.

It’s the same with sports. You can’t just get better and smarter physically if you’re not mentally and physically fit.

Mental health should be the number 1 thing in sports, but unfortunately, it’s not.

mental health on the first place on podium

Surely you can build your muscles really strong and perform on a good level. But being a great athlete takes a lot more than building your muscles in the gym and recovering well.

Why might some struggle with mental health

In sports, the problem often appears in your emotions or mind patterns.

  • That happens because athletes don’t know what mental health is and how to deal with it.
  • They don’t know how to solve these problems which can’t be physically seen.

The thing with mental health it’s not something that can be fixed overnight.

With injuries, you get treatment and be back on track within 3-12 months depending on your injury.

With mental health, figuring out specific problems will take years.

After finding source of a problem, the treatment will also take years, so it’s safe to say, mental health is an important part of your career.

Finding  the balance

Finding that perfect balance between your physical and mental condition will take years and many athletes give up before they’ve even had the chance to start.

Yes, this is a long journey, but this is going to be the only factor that can make you a higher level athlete.

Finding a balance between mental and physical health is definitely not an easy road

The fact is that everyone is different and their mind works differently as well.

In order to find a healthy balance, you need to have someone who knows the science behind that and is well qualified to guide you on your journey.

There will be definitely some things that can only come with time and experience.

Comparing a young athlete and an experienced athlete the difference is huge.

An experienced athlete is naturally calmer and knows how their body and mind work. Whereas young athletes are filled with energy and ready to train 24/7.

Being a young athlete the pressure might crack you because you’re focused on becoming physically the best and not focusing on developing mental health.

Summary

Overall the journey in finding that perfect balance is LONG and time-consuming, but it will definitely pay off in the end.

The key is to be aware and find help if needed or even just talk to someone.

If you already have some problems, don’t panic even if you’ve let this go on for a while. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.

As athletes, it’s very important to speak about mental health topic because this is something everyone deals with one way or the other.

In today’s world, all the athletes are part-time influencers. They talk about injuries, recovery, workouts, dieting but no one talks about mental health and the importance of it and this needs to change.

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