Help Yourself, Help a Friend - Athletes

Help Yourself 8 Ways to Win with Your Head

  1. Understand what you are feeling throughout a competition.
  2. Build your confidence through repetition and reflection.
  3. Practice like you play.
  4. Visualize the adversity...Overcome the adversity.
  5. Concentrate on one play, one goal...Don't overload yourself.
  6. When the time comes...Perform, don't think.
  7. Sidestep the Big Choke...Understand the triggers to your downfall.
  8. Take time to evaluate yourself and set new goals.

(Adapted from Don Patterson, 2001)

Help a Friend- For Coaches and Teammates Coaches Corner:

Coaches are often the front lines to athletes' mental health. From the early stages of the recruiting the hours of practice, competition, and all the time in between...coaches have a unique and personal understanding of their athletes. Therefore, it is helpful when coaches understand the resources that are available to allow their athlete to reach their maximum potential. A recent survey of NCAA coaches reported that 72% of them had positive experience with campus mental health care resources. Many report mental health care can both improve athletic performance, and help students reach their full personal potential.

How can coaches help?

  1. Maintain that extraordinary relationship you have with your athlete.
  2. Help reduce the stigma of mental health by talking about it and normalizing the need to take care of our minds.
  3. Be an ambassador for mental health.
  4. Use mental health resources on your campus to identify athletes who could use help, and refer them to appropriate resources.
  5. Make mental health information available when students arrive on campus. A great source for mental health information here.
  6. Add yearly education/prevention activities to your team's season. This may consist of speakers for general as well as specific mental health topics (such as stress, study skills, depression, anxiety, eating concerns, or substance use).

How to Help a Teammate

Teammates often turn to their own peers for support in times of trouble. If a teammate has come to you, consider it a sign of trust and strength. Many people don't know how to respond. Here is a list of helpful pointers when considering how best to help a teammate:

  1. The student athletes' approach indicates a need to talk with you.
  2. Stop what you are doing, look at the person, and simply listen.
  3. Listen and accept what you are given.
  4. Ask questions for clarification without judging. One of the biggest mistakes someone can make is to respond as if the problem is a sign of weakness or unimportant or trivial.
  5. When it appears the person has finished talking, ask if there is anything else he/she needs to say. Sometimes listening is enough.
  6. Indicate you are glad he/she came to you and you want to help.
  7. Don't assume, but clarify what help the person may want.
  8. Make the necessary referral and encourage/support its acceptance.
  9. Consulting with a CAPS or Department of Athletics counselor or other mental health professional is an excellent way to feel confident in your support.
  10. Know your limits
  11. Be aware of what is reasonable to expect from yourself.
  12. Know your resources.
  13. You cannot always change the person/situation because you have limited control.
  14. Take care of yourself.
  15. Planting the seed. It can be difficult to reach out/accept help. Helping your teammate may simply be accepting her/his decision to not seek support at this time, and offering your hand when the time comes.

(Adapted from NCAA: "Managing Student-Athletes' Mental Health Issues")