If you are coaching high school sports, you understand the pressures and stress of being an athletic mentor to teens. Parents can frustrate you with their opinions of how something should be done, and your team is looking to you help them achieve their goals and dreams. You play an important role in the lives of young people, and you should be recognized for your hard work, patience, and care.
So, first of all, thank you. It is understandably difficult to always stay positive, so if you are struggling to keep your kids motivated and put your best foot forward during practice and games, engaging in some mindfulness exercises may be the solution.
Recognize Negativity… Then Let It Go
When you go home after a tough practice of a game loss, don’t let negativity consume you. It is easy to immediately slip into ‘blame mode,’ or feel overwhelmed by your thoughts. Let those thoughts come into your head and recognize their presence. Then tell yourself “those negative thoughts are useless; they do not help the situation and are only making me feel worse.” Let those thoughts go.
Take a deep breath and exhale out any feelings of blame, shame, sadness, or fear. Try to clear your mind for a few minutes and focus on your breath. When thoughts creep in, gently bring your focus back to the sensations of air moving in and out of your nose, and your belly expanding with each inhalation, and then relaxing as you exhale.
Practicing mindfulness and meditation can help you learn that those negative thoughts do not serve you any purpose. And, that you can calm yourself down and reduce the stress and anxiety you feel as a high school sports coach.
Keep A Journal
Ok, you may have just groaned in disdain reading those words, but hear me out. A journal is a great way to express your thoughts and keep track of ideas. After you have let go of blaming yourself and completed a quick breathing exercise, you are in a better headspace to objectively analyze the situation.
Write down what didn’t go as planned; why things didn’t go as well this time; what you and your players did well; ways in which individuals, the team, and yourself can improve; and anything else that comes to mind.
Getting your thoughts down on paper can help de-clutter your mind and focus on the next steps. It may also generate some great ideas on team-building exercises or improvements you need to make when it comes to communication or how you react in stressful situations.
Finally, recognize your worth. Allow yourself to be proud of what you and your team has accomplished. Appreciate your players for all of their unique qualities that make them an asset to the team. Focusing on the positive will help you maintain a clear sense of why you do what you do. And, you’ll be more likely to react and respond to stress and pressure in a calm and constructive manner. Like the sport you coach, it’s just going to take practice.