One area of counseling interest that many counselors probably don’t think about is counseling our young athletes in schools. Counseling athletes and helping them work towards becoming happy, healthy, and successful athletes on and off the field, or court can have rewarding benefits. This is one area of counseling that I am interested in since I have been a soccer and tennis coach in some past educational positions when I used to teach Spanish. Even though I coached two specific sports, I always praised athletes in other sports when they performed well academically in classes and physically in their sport. There are several ways counselors can help young athletes reach their goals in their sport mentally and physically.
Counselors can give athletes techniques that they can use to help prepare them mentally for games or matches so that they don’t become nervous before starting the game. Some of the same coping techniques can be used while they are playing a game if they start slacking in their performance level by making errors. We can give them relaxation techniques that will hopefully help them calm down if they start to get angry about how they, or their teammates are playing the game. Counselors can help them think about the positive side of losing a game by helping them focus on whatever positive actions happened during the game. We must encourage athletes that its not always about winning. Its about you giving your best, helping your teammates, and showing good sportsmanship whether you win, or lose a game. Other things we can encourage athletes to do is stay positive when they practice and play a real game. They need to know that its important to listen to their coach when he gives them advice and techniques to help them improve their mental and physical performance on and off the field, or court.
Counselors provide athletes with techniques to use on and off the field, or court to help them maintain their level of mental and physical performance. Its important to help them not allow what may be bothering them off the court affect them on the court if they want to play well. Its important to help them reframe and focus right before they play a game, during the game, and reflect on what they did after the game so they can play better the next time. It also helps if their coach has experience playing the sport. That gives him, or her more credibility in coaching the athletes. It also helps if the coach has some counseling skills in helping his athletes if they start slacking in mental, or physical performance on and off the field as well as academically in class.
It's important to encourage our student athletes to perform well on and off the field especially in their academics. However, we need to help them find the right balance so they can manage their classes and playing sports. It is possible to do both, but student athletes need to follow a well-balanced schedule to do well in class and on the field.
Joe Murphy, Jr is a multilingual certified school counselor currently working as an ELL teacher and assistant coach for boys soccer with Jefferson County Schools in Alabama. He is certified as a school counselor in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee, and a current member of ACA and ASCA. He has three years of high school counseling experience, two years as an elementary counselor, and at least thirteen years of teaching experience. His counseling interest areas include academic, career, multicultural, mental health, substance abuse, sports counseling, family, migrant youth, and LGBTQ youth issues.