#MoreThanMedals: It’s okay not to be okay

For athletes to succeed and reach their full potential in sport and life, it is important that they have access to a lifestyle and environment that enables them to thrive.

It is crucial that we consider the person behind the performance – their values, beliefs and strengths – and take into consideration their concerns, fears and vulnerabilities. This will inevitably benefit their sport and, equally importantly, enable them to develop through the different stages of life in a positive and encouraging way.

For Performance Lifestyle practitioners, an athlete’s overall wellbeing and welfare is our priority. Performance sport is about pressure, based on targets, testing, analysis and competition – and results are part of the environment that is required to develop and achieve success. However, we must take time to consider the impact of this demanding environment on the person. Athletes are expected to perform, they expect themselves to perform – and when doubt and over-thinking creep in, there can be a detrimental impact on mental health and overall wellbeing.

A key part of our role is to build rapport and trust, observe and listen, ask how they are, encourage and seek to source solutions to enable an athlete to make choices and be in control. 

We encourage the athlete, the person, to consider their wider identity, integrate their sport with study or personal development to grow competencies and a wider sense of self outside of sport in preparation for the transitions they will encounter.

Within the current performance climate, there is much discussion about athlete mental health and wellbeing – and each of us has a role to protect the athletes we work with to fulfil their potential in all aspects of life. Evidence illustrates that the achievement of medal success is linked to athletes who integrate their sport with their studies, developing competencies, confidence and belief in themselves.

Our ability to influence the culture where athletes and staff can thrive is vital – where it’s okay not to be okay; where we see an ability to talk about our mental health and wellbeing as a strength – and we build into the performance system an environment that supports the #MoreThanMedals approach.

Date published: 28 June 2023
Date updated: 28 June 2023


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