Coaches play such a significant role in the lives of young people.
Regardless of whether you are a grassroots coach volunteering your time, a coach working in elite development within your sport or a professional coach at the highest level, your role as a coach has evolved over time to be about so much more than just getting results on the field.
For coaches working with young children and adolescents, the role can be particularly influential.
The truth is that when you coach a team or an individual athlete, you have to wear a lot of hats.
Part-trainer, part-carer and sometimes even part-counsellor, the nature of coaching means you are directly involved in and influencing the lives of the people you are working with.
And you do all this in such a relatively small period of time every week.
In a typical grassroots setting, you work with your players two or three times a week at training plus matchday.
It’s not a lot of time to focus on all the things you need to focus on to ensure your players are able to perform at their peak – not just from a technical or physical standpoint but from a mental one as well.
The other challenge, of course, is that most coaches are not experts in mental health and may not be able to pick out signs of stress, anxiety or a lack of confidence.
This can lead to a misunderstanding of why a player may not be performing to their usual standards or not developing as much as some of their team-mates or peers.
Here are five things that coaches can look out for to monitor the wellbeing of their athletes.
If you’ve noticed a player seems to have their head dropped at training, always stand at the back of the group or have changed their overall demeanour at training, it might be a sign that something is bothering them.
This can also lead to a change in performance levels.
As coaches, it can often be the performance levels that are the first thing that is noticed, but it’s important to look for any underlying factors that may be contributing to that.
Another sign of stress, anxiety or a lack of confidence could be a change in the player’s engagement rate at training.
Are they asking fewer questions? Do they look disinterested or distracted when you’re explaining a drill or giving a team talk?
It’s easy to dismiss this as ‘kids being kids’, but it could be a sign that something is bothering the player.
If a player who is usually a reliable trainer has been attending fewer training sessions, this could be a sign that off-the-field issues are bothering the player or are stopping them from training.
It could also be a sign that the player is bothered by something at training or the wider club or team environment.
Whilst as a coach we might not be able to directly fix or influence what happens outside of the team environment, a quick check-in, either via phone call, a face-to-face meeting before or after training or a chat with the parents might allow you to understand what the player is going through and seek assistance from within your team or club.
If a player is visibly irritable, snapping back or showing signs of frustration with you and/or their teammates, it could be a sign that something is bothering the player.
This can lead to issues within the team, but more importantly, it could be a call for help from the player themselves.
Consider talking to the player and asking them what is frustrating them and look to approach their situation from a position of understanding.
Athletes who use Arete can perform daily check-ins with their Wellbeing Coach.
Learn more about athlete check-ins in this blog.
As athletes track their wellbeing, the data is securely captured and compiled daily or weekly onto the Coaches’ Dashboard.
Through this data, coaches gain a holistic overview of an individual and team wellbeing. This allows coaches to offer support when it’s most needed and tailor training sessions to maximise their athletes’ performance.
Arete helps coaches adjust training programs based on individual response to load, and improve performance safely. Tracking this is the essential solution to develop talent and reduce the risk of injury in athletes.
As a coach, you’ll even receive automated red flags if any of your players record consistently low scores across any of the tracking areas.
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