As acclaimed gymnast Simone Biles reminded the world upon retiring from the 2021 Olympics all-around finals, the importance of mental health in sport should never be overlooked.
No matter how dominant an athlete may be, the stress, anxiety, and general pressure of organized competition can certainly get worse. And if one finds oneself trapped in negative headspace, going over the aforementioned psychological barriers is not necessarily the right course of action.
Especially after a year in the midst of your forties in which maintaining a positive mindset has not occurred at ease, possessing effective coping mechanisms is crucial if one is to hope to thrive in as an athlete these days.
While opinions on the matter may vary, at least that is how the Thompson School District views the subject of mental health in athletics.
âIt’s a difficult age. It’s harder to be a teenager now with all the social media and stuff like that, âdistrict athletic director Kevin Clark said. âAbout a month ago, Naomi Osaka pulled out of a big tennis tournament. Then we see Biles with the Olympics. Mental health is real, and it’s good to talk about it. And there are so many unknowns with our students’ mental state returning after a year where much of the year was online. So it is very important to have strategies to manage things and face adversity. “
Clark and district athletic staff don’t just recognize the importance of rehabilitating the psyche of local student-athletes after the coronavirus-influenced year.
Instead, they’re taking action to help TSD student-athletes achieve it.
Specifically, at a two-day seminar on community engagement in athletics, the district invited Dr. Greg Dale – the chief athletic psychologist at Duke University – – to help students develop positive mental schemas in Mountain View next Friday.
âWe are really excited to have a speaker of this magnitude,â said Clark. âMental health and mental toughness are the big goals here. Strengthen the resilience of our students. He works with middle school students who are often hundreds or even thousands of miles from home and their normal support systems. He therefore has strategies and a great deal of know-how to pass on to our students. So it’s exciting to hear and see how one of the leading experts in the field will impart his knowledge to our students.
Starting at 4 p.m. MT Friday for students, Dale will host a teamwork and mental toughness session.
After the student assembly, Dale will then operate through a discussion with parents ââ to shed light on âstrategies parents can use to help their children get through this important time in their livesâ.
âOne of the things that always stood out to me is hearing that the number one reason kids quit youth sports is driving home,â said Clark. “Those comments parents make to the student on that road trip about where you were today or whatever.” But we’re not trying to focus on the negatives here. We’re trying to figure out what positive things our parents can do to help their child get into athletics.
All Friday events are free, and this also applies to the Saturday festivities ââ which include seven separate sessions, starting at 8 am, designed for Loveland area coaches.
Namely, on Saturday morning Dale will chat with local coaches on how to develop confident and trainable athletes while prioritizing mental health.
Then, at 10 a.m., TSD introduces Dr. Alissa Wicklund of the Orthopedic & Spine Center of the Rockies ââ who works closely with the Denver Broncos and the Colorado Avalanche ââ to brief coaches on all the details associated with the concussions in athletics.
âThe CHSAA made mental health courses compulsory two years ago. And that’s what we offer our coaches. We’re trying to make it a one-stop-shop for our coaches. Then we will give them a chance to get their concussion certifications. And we’ll be doing breakout sessions with our coaches on a ton of different topics ââ strength and conditioning, injuries, warm-up, cool-down.
Below is the full order of events for the two-day Mountain View event:
4:00 p.m. ââ Teamwork and mental strength: skills that will serve you well for the rest of your life (Greg Dale; student session)
6:00 p.m. ââ Our Children and Their Sports: Strategies Parents Can Use to Help Them Get Through This Important Period in Their Life (Greg Dale; parent session)
8:00 am ââ The Art of Coaching: Strategies for Developing More Confident, Coachable Athletes (Greg Dale; Practice Session)
10 a.m. ââ Concussion education (Alissa Wicklund; coaching session)
10:45 am ââ Small group session # 1 (coach session)
11:30 am ââ Small group session # 2 (coach session)
12:15 pm ââ TSD Coaching Awards (coach session)
1:00 p.m. ââ Individual meeting with high school coaches (coaching session)
2:00 pm ââ Optional CPR & Transport recertification (coach session)