5 Ways to Coach with Mental Health in Mind

5 Ways to Coach with Mental Health in Mind
Coaches have an incredible opportunity to reach young people. Being a positive social responder is something they should strive to be.

Let us talk to you about coaches.

We have the utmost respect for coaches. Coaches give a tremendous amount of time to their passion. They care about their sport and they care about their athletes. In our experience, the vast majority of coaches want their players to be healthy, happy individuals. They want them to thrive both as individuals and as athletes. Coaches are typically confident in their ability when it comes to coaching their athletes, however when it comes to supporting the individual we tend to see coaches at a loss.


Being a positive social responder is something that we all should strive to be. Coaches have an incredible opportunity to reach so many young people that it is something we should be teaching and encouraging them to be.

What does it take to be a positive social responder?

Listen to what is being communicated

  • As leaders in sport we spend a lot of time teaching and modelling to those around us through speaking to them – sharing our thoughts, insights and wisdom. We may forget the most important and undervalued communication skill is listening.

Demonstrate understanding and empathy

  • Refrain from fixing! You will be surprised by how much more approachable a situation is if you don’t feel like you must have the solution. Do your best to understand where your athletes are coming from even if it doesn’t make sense to you!

Pay attention

  • Think about how it feels when you know you have someone’s undivided attention – when they are looking at just you, not checking their phone or gathering their stuff to leave.

Thank them for talking to you

  • Let your athletes know that you appreciate them coming to you. Thank them for trusting you with how they’re feeling and what they are dealing with.

Check in the next time you see them

  • Following up with your athletes lets them know you care, that you haven’t forgotten. Either  pull them aside (privately) and ask how things are or a deliberate “How are you doing today”. You when you have moment to ask that simple question, it can go a long way.

It’s not your responsibility to fix things or find the solution. But, you have the power to shift their experience based on how you respond.

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HONE Athletics

HONE is an initiative of Mindful Athletics, an organization dedicated to supporting athletes’ mental health. Over the past five years, Mindful Athletics has worked with individual athletes, teams, associations, universities, and national level sporting organizations to provide psychoeducational workshops and help athletes identify and honour their mental health.

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