Mental Toughness, Psychology
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Preparing Athletes for the Paris 2024 Olympics: A Holistic Approach
It has been a bustling year for Team Kenya, with various national teams participating in respective qualifiers, all aimed at the ultimate target: the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
The greatest aspiration for any athlete is to partake in the Olympics, to have the title 'OLY' eternally inscribed in their names and history. It entails years of preparation for both the coach and athlete, with specific goals aligned to Olympic training cycles.
The Paris 2024 Olympics could signify the culmination of a sporting career for some, a medal quest for many, or a stepping stone towards the next games in Los Angeles 2028 for others. The period leading up to, and following the targeted games plays a pivotal role in determining an athlete's mental health status.
Addressing Pre & Post-Olympic Anxieties
Pre and post-Olympic anxieties, letdowns, or depression can be preemptively managed by engaging more deeply with the athlete in setting realistic and progressive goals. The coach, therefore, plays a critical role as the frontline defender of an athlete's mental health status.
Various factors can trigger mental health concerns in athletes, including the pressure and expectations for high-level performance, traveling away from family into unfamiliar environments, injuries, and financial stress.
Coaching Beyond the Physical: Emotional, Cognitive, and Social Aspects
Coaches need to engage with athletes beyond the physical aspects of training, considering the emotional, cognitive, social, and financial elements as well. These are key components in shaping a well-rounded athlete. It's essential to be consistent in teaching and supporting athletes both before and after the games.
The myth of "mental toughness" needs to be debunked. Concealing pain, and suppressing feelings and emotions should not be seen as indicators of mental toughness. Instead, coaches should cultivate an environment conducive to athletes expressing their feelings freely.
Encouraging Holistic Athlete Development
Engaging early with athletes about aspects of life beyond their competitive spheres is critical. Discussions can encompass work and careers, personal relationships, personal growth through education or hobbies, and off-season rejuvenation breaks. A physically fit, strong, and fast athlete or team can collapse under pressure due to factors linked to mental well-being.
Forming Collaborative Partnerships for Athlete Support
Forming collaborative partnerships with professionals such as psychologists, counselors, and mentors is an effective approach. These partnerships can unlock even more potential for your athlete or team, contributing to a comprehensive support system for holistic athlete development.