You rarely hear athletes say an athletic program prepared them mentally and equipped them with the proper skills and resources to succeed at the next level.
As we look at the commitments required to develop successful student-athletes, there are many gaps in which leadership plays vital roles, especially when it comes to personal development skills that will assist athletes in adhering to their commitments.
In a big picture view, coaches and athletic directors must also acknowledge other factors impacting student-athletes, such as family and friends' needs or part-time jobs.
Taking this into consideration, the following are essential to every athletic program's student-athlete development strategy. First, molding students into elite athletes and scholars is necessary, but developing the person behind the number should be the main priority.
- Set team/program expectations and what is required to meet these expectations
- Schedule time for student-athletes to develop personal expectations. Identify how they see themselves in this role, now and in the future. Identify their commitment level.
- Implement a learning environment prioritizing daily personal development practices to tackle common student-athlete challenges.
While student-athletes may understand that adversity is a part of life while striving for their goals, mostly learned from practice and game-day huddle talks, many cannot acknowledge, process, and move forward through academic, athletic, or other life challenges. Consequently, this may lead to potential burnout and increasing staggering statistics regarding student-athlete depression, anxiety, and suicide rates.
Unfortunately, studies indicate, student-athletes are not likely to seek help from a counselor or psychiatrist following a generational stigma of "Athletes Don't Cry." Therefore, coaches and athletic directors play a critical role in mental health check-ins.
One way is to acknowledge your student-athletes' red flags that they may display through unusual behavior, such as
- Declining grades
- Disengaged from practice and team activities
- Low Confidence
In a conversation with former athlete now coach Raven Gerald, she encourages her athletes to eliminate the stigma that seeking help is a weakness. As coaches, it's imperative to train athletes to take care of their mental well-being and provide accessible resources for them to do so.
Whether a coach, parent, or student-athlete, as a person, when disciplined, able to manage emotions, and willing to face adversity, you produce better results in all areas of your life.
Although many coaches are challenged with implementing new student-athlete personal development strategies due to time limits, thankfully, your student-athlete will still benefit from flexible development resources. Maybe it's a 5-minute on-the-go learning experience with the Athlete Training Ground app or a self-reflection journal, which is proven to develop a positive routine, better process emotions, increase self-confidence right in the palm of their hands.
With new and accessible resources to develop student-athletes' well-being, it proves having a personal development strategy can be flexible, impactful, and life-changing for the student-athletes who come through an athletic program.
The goal is to mold students to be great athletes and scholars while training and equipping them with life skills and the knowledge of how to apply them.
Change The Narrative