TrueSport Resources

 Why Coaches Should Prioritize their Own Mental Wellness Too
(6/23/2022)
 
 
   

Why Coaches Should Prioritize their Own Mental Wellness Too


A coach who isn’t taking time for his or her own mental health is at a serious disadvantage. Here’s what you need to know.


As a busy coach, you likely haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about your own mental health and wellness. Sure, you’ve told your athletes to seek professional help if they need it, or maybe even spent time doing group activities with your team to promote mental wellness. But how are you doing?

TrueSport Expert Kevin Chapman , PhD, clinical psychologist and founder of The Kentucky Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders , believes that a coach who isn’t taking time for his or her own mental health is at a serious disadvantage. Here’s what you need to know.

You’re not invincible—and don’t have to be
“At the end of the day, it’s important for you and your athletes to understand that as a coach, you are not invincible,” says Chapman. “It’s so important to normalize having a range of emotions.”

Checking in with a professional—even before something is ‘wrong’ in your life—is a great idea for anyone. “In our sporting culture, especially for men, it can be hard to show emotion or admit that you need help,” says Chapman. If you know you should talk to someone but are struggling to feel okay with seeking help, he suggests you think about it in a new way: “I reframe treatment as coaching, or mental conditioning, or mental toughness training. That tends to feel better for many coaches."

Chapman adds, “Coaches generally understand that their athletes need to have a growth mindset  and believe that they’re capable of changing and growing. But as adults, we tend to fall into the fixed mindset even if we don’t realize it. And because of that, we actually convince ourselves that we can’t change or be flexible, or that we shouldn’t ’need to’ grow.”

Your mental health impacts your work
"In my experience with coaches, I’ve found that there's even more of a stigma with coaches seeking mental health treatment compared to athletes,” says Chapman. "I've also seen how incredibly impactful this is, because depending on the sport, a coach’s mental health might be critical to overall success, wellness, and safety on the team.” For instance, if you’re going through a tough time, you might struggle to stay on top of tactics in a fast-paced basketball or football game, or potentially even miss warning signs of injury for your athletes.

“Your functioning is impaired when your mental health is not in order,” Chapman explains. “And if your judgment is impaired, then you need to do something about it. You need to enhance your mental health and wellness. You can't be good at your craft in any capacity if your mental health is not taken care of. You can't competently do your job.”

Athletes emulate you—for better or worse
"As a coach goes, so does the team,” says Chapman. Regardless of how many mental health and wellness activities  you do with your athletes, if they sense that you’re struggling or you’re not taking your own advice, they won’t take it either. Athletes will emulate you , rather than doing what you suggest. There’s a reason for the cliche of ‘do as I say, not as I do,’ but unfortunately, that cliche doesn’t work.

“Your athletes are learning more from your example, not from what you're saying,” he adds. “No matter how many mental health exercises you lead them through, your athletes are going to follow that example. Ultimately, some coaches have this unrealistic expectation for themselves that they can't show emotion, which trickles down to the team and what we teach our athletes."

Transparency is powerful
“If you can tell your athletes that you are not okay, and that you’re struggling with something, that's going to enhance your rapport with your players ,” says Chapman. You don’t need to overshare and dig into the details, but telling athletes that something is going on will make you more relatable. “Your athletes are going to relate to you better, because everyone goes through something at some point,” he adds. "And you’ll be surprised, too: Athletes are going to rally around you. They’ll appreciate your honesty and find you more relatable as a human, which will make you more effective as a coach and a leader.”

TAKEAWAY: As a coach, you may not think about your own mental health as often as you think about your athlete’s emotional well-being, but you can’t be an effective coach when you’re struggling internally. Protecting your own mental health will make you a better coach and stronger person.


TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 9 Ways to Model Good Sportsmanship from the Sidelines
(6/9/2022)
 
   

9 Ways to Model Good Sportsmanship from the Sidelines


Here's what coaches should know about modeling good sportsmanship on gameday.


Have you ever stifled the urge to shout at a parent, referee, or player during a big game? As a coach, you probably know that it’s important to be a good role model for your young athletes. But what does that look like when you’re on the sidelines at a big game and your stress levels are skyrocketing?

Dr. Amanda Stanec, who specializes in physical education and youth development through sport is a mother of three young athletes in addition to a coach educator. Here’s what she wants coaches to know about modeling good sportsmanship on gameday.

1. Cheer on effort, not just achievement
Rather than focusing on cheering hard when an athlete scores a goal in a game, try to cheer on moments of great effort. That could be when a child tries a new move—even if it doesn’t work out—or passes the ball to a teammate instead of trying to score a shot solo. "We need to really celebrate creativity and healthy risk-taking for athletes, not just moments where things go right and they score,” says Stanec. “We want kids to feel like they can try new things and take those risks. I hear a lot of coaches and parents make audible sighs or frustrated noises when an athlete misses a shot, and that just discourages athletes from trying anything new. There is no place for that on the sideline.”

2. Focus on the psychosocial dynamic

If we focus on encouraging teamwork and community rather than on competition and winning, more young athletes will stay in sport, says Stanec. "I think if every coach went into sport with the goal of having every kid love their sport more at the end of season, that would be great for youth athletics,” says Stanec. “And they’ll like it more if they’re improving, if they’re learning and trying new things, and if they’re encouraged to have a good time while being competitive.” Focusing on a joyful and hardworking environment will undoubtedly lead to more development and wins.

3. Encourage cheering for everyone
As a coach, it’s important to remember to cheer for everyone, not just the star players or your favorite or most dominant personalities on a team. "To me, the golden rule is to give positive feedback to each individual player on your team,” says Stanec. "There's been such an adult model of sport pushed on kids that it seems like now there's a lot of competition and favoritism even within many youth teams.”

4. Be aware of negative language
"I think a great way to model good sportsmanship from the sidelines is not only by giving each player specific positive feedback, but also making it a rule to not criticize any child during the game, ever,” says Stanec. “Every kid knows when they make a mistake once they begin playing at more competitive levels, so whether you’re a coach or a parent, during a game is not the time to bring it up.” If there’s a skill-based technique or tactic that the athlete can work on, a coach can make a note to bring it up in practice, but the heat of the moment during a game isn’t the time to get into it.

5. Cheer for the other team
Coaches (and parents) can influence how your team sees and treats players on opposing teams by cheering for those kids as well. "I like to cheer for the other team when a great play is made,” says Stanec. “Saying things like great shot, great save—those small things can make a big difference in attitudes from the opposing team’s athletes, coaches, and parents, while also making games much more fun, even while remaining highly competitive.” And cheering for great plays from the other team as a coach can also cue your own athletes into great tips and tactics that they may not have noticed before. Showing appreciation for the game and all the joy it can bring is something that ought to be celebrated.

6. Coaches should set the tone with parents
“It can be so helpful to have a meeting with parents at the beginning of the season to set standards for what’s appropriate at games,” Stanec says. “Let them know that the only thing you want to hear from them during a game is positive encouragement like 'great hustle,’ or ‘great try.’ No coaching the coaches, no coaching the athletes.” You can even ask the athletes themselves to come up with a Code of Good Sportsmanship that encompasses the team’s positive values for coaches, parents, and the athletes themselves. Get everyone to sign this code at the start of the season.

7. Pay attention to your body language
You may not realize that your body language unconsciously is sending negative messages, but if you’re constantly shaking your head, covering your eyes, looking down, gesturing wildly, or just showing closed off body language, you may be sending unintentional nonverbal cues to the athletes, says Stanec. If you aren’t sure how you’re appearing at games, consider asking someone to video you for a few minutes, then play the footage back to see how you handle different moments. Focus on positive body language like cheering, smiling, making eye contact, and generally keeping your body relaxed and open.

8. Roleplay high-stress scenarios
A great way to model good sportsmanship—and prevent potential emotionally fraught moments in the game—is by roleplaying different high-stress situations. Ask yourself, how would you respond if someone does something disrespectful during the game, or makes you angry? Now, picture how your response would look if someone captured it on video and posted it online. Would you be okay with that reaction being posted? If not, what could you do instead? Preparing yourself by ‘rehearsing’ these scenarios can make a big difference to your reactions in the moment. Do this activity with your athletes or just as a personal exercise.

9. Remember that kids absorb everything
The areas that control logic and rational thought are some of the last to receive a circuit update in an adolescent’s brain, says Stanec. That means it may be harder for them to control their emotions, and if they see you engaging in unsportsmanlike behavior, from cursing under your breath at the umpire to shouting at a parent on the opposing team, they begin to emulate that reaction. “These unsportsmanlike behaviors are taught,” says Stanec.

TAKEAWAY: When athletes look at their coach during a game, they should see positivity and encouragement, not frustration or anger. Athletes also shouldn’t see you arguing with referees or exhibiting negative body language. Remember, how you act determines how your athletes act.



TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 When Can Young Athletes Return to Sport After Illness?
(5/26/2022)
 
   

When Can Young Athletes Return to Sport After Illness?


Signs, symptoms, and feelings that can help athletes, parents, and coaches determine when it’s time to get back in the game.


Returning to sport from illness of any kind can be tricky, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s only gotten more difficult. But even a simple cold or stomach bug can leave an athlete sidelined without a clear idea of when it’s safe or advisable to return to sport.

Here, Dr. Michele LaBotz, TrueSport Expert and sports medicine physician, will dig into the signs, symptoms, and feelings that can help athletes, parents, and coaches determine when it’s time to get back in the game.

Before we dive into specific ailments and illnesses, it’s important to note that even when an athlete is no longer infectious or isn’t running a fever, they may still not be ready to return to play. “Even something like an ear infection can be really difficult when it comes to returning to play,” says LaBotz. “An athlete may technically be cleared to return to practice, but I think it’s critical to understand that an athlete’s comfort and capacity to be fully engaged with the sport are just as important as a fever being gone. If a player is distracted because their ear hurts too much or because their tooth hurts too much, they're potentially risking injury. An athlete has to be feeling well enough that they can perform effectively.”

Assuming your athlete is ready to get back on the field, here’s what you need to know:


Asymptomatic COVID-19


We’ve written about returning to sport after COVID in the past, but as LaBotz points out, the recommendations are changing constantly. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as getting a negative test—there also needs to be a complete resolution of even mild symptoms, and an all-clear from a physician before an athlete comes back. “Once symptoms have resolved, it is recommended that they touch base with their primary care provider,” says LaBotz. “Many primary care providers are doing a phone call follow up to make sure that there are no other factors that need to be considered.”

Approach an athlete’s comeback the same way you would progress an athlete with a concussion, LaBotz says: “Take a stepwise approach, starting with low intensity activity, and then gradually building back up to sport-specific and higher intensity training over the course of five to seven days.”


Symptomatic COVID-19

“For moderate symptoms, the current recommendation is that athletes get seen by their primary care provider before returning to play,” says LaBotz. “In the United States, the recommendations are that an EKG be done, and the doctor may decide to order additional tests looking at the health of the heart muscle.”

With severe symptoms, it is presumed that an athlete has myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart muscles. “For them, it's a three-to-six-month time period before they can get back to sport,” says LaBotz. “The recommendation is that all of those children with severe symptoms get cleared by a cardiologist before going back.” (If you want to learn more about how COVID-19 can impact heart health, check out this article.)


Cold / Flu / Bronchitis


You may have heard of the ‘neck rule’ in the past, and LaBotz is a firm believer in it when it comes to dealing with colds and flues. “If you have symptoms that are isolated to above the neck, like an earache, a runny nose, or a sore throat, then generally speaking, you can return to sport safely if you feel okay,” she says.

However, anything below the neck—a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, lung symptoms, a significant cough, wheezing, or shortness of breath—then those need to be addressed before an athlete can go back to sport. “For fevers, you need to be fever free for 24 hours before being able to return to sport,” she adds. To check your athlete’s temperature, LaBotz recommends a digital thermometer that goes in the mouth. Forehead thermometers—popularized during COVID-19—are much less accurate.

“If an athlete is on an antibiotic for an ear infection or for a strep throat or a similar illness, once the fever is gone and they're feeling okay, they can go back,” says LaBotz. “They don't have to wait until they're done with antibiotics to go back to training.” (Just be aware that athletes may experience some gut issues like diarrhea because of antibiotics, and in that case, may want to wait until those gut issues resolve.)

LaBotz adds that it’s a great idea to ensure your athlete gets a flu shot this year. “If you're part of a team, you put not only yourself at risk, but you also put your teammates at risk if you're not vaccinated. So, making sure that athletes get their influenza vaccine is important,” she adds.


Mononucleosis

Mononucleosis is one of the scary high school illnesses that can set an athlete back for a full season in some cases. LaBotz notes that first and foremost, before even considering fever or spleen status, an athlete should be feeling better and their energy level should be coming back before return to play should be considered. Once an athlete is feeling energetic and their fever is gone, it’s still important to check with a doctor to get the all-clear to return, though. “The biggest concern, especially with contact sports, is the risk for splenic rupture. Splenic rupture will most commonly happen within the first three weeks of illness, so that's when the risk is highest,” LaBotz says. “For most young athletes, there will be the recommendation that even if they're feeling a lot better, they stay out for that period of time. Return to sport is largely based on how the patient feels, as well as if there's any tenderness to palpation over the spleen area.”

LaBotz notes that “Kids can end up in a vicious cycle with mono. Symptoms may take a while to resolve, but after they do, kids are still feeling a lack of energy because they’ve been doing nothing for weeks.” Generally, LaBotz recommends starting a low impact activity like walking or yoga once symptoms subside and it’s been a few weeks, even if energy levels are low. “It's also a good time to focus on rehabilitation, flexibility, and other lower intensity stuff,” she says. “When you're coming back from a serious illness like that, a slow progression is helpful.” It can also help them mentally get back in the game. (The same applies for athletes coming back from long bouts of the flu.)


Gut Issues

For stomach bugs, food poisoning, and any tummy trouble that includes vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach pain, it’s important to stay away from practice until it resolves—both for the sake of the athlete and the team. Especially in high contact sports or sports with shared equipment, stomach bugs can easily pass between players. “These days, we’re all talking about respiratory transmission and wearing masks, but when it comes to gastrointestinal illnesses, it’s all about hand washing,” LaBotz says. “And those bugs are not just spread by hands, they spread by contact with the basketball and the gymnastics equipment and the wrestling mat. So, it’s important to be cautious.”

“If there's still active diarrheal episodes or vomiting, stay out of practice,” she adds. “Not only because of transmission, but because with both vomiting and diarrhea, athletes are at higher risk for dehydration. And with some of these illnesses, the virus can affect muscle as well—in particular the heart muscle—so myocarditis is another concern.”


TAKEAWAY

Knowing when it’s safe to return to sport after illness can be tricky and depends not only on how the athlete feels, but also the potential for spreading the illness to others. Particularly when athletes have been away from sport for more than several days, return to sport is not “all or nothing” but should include a few days where activity is gradually increased based upon the athlete’s energy and performance. Following the above guidance from Dr. LaBotz can help your athlete and their teammates stay healthy and return to sport safely if they do get sick.


TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 8 Tips to Help Young Athletes Perform in Extreme Environments
(5/12/2022)
 
   

8 Tips to Help Young Athletes Perform in Extreme Environments


Advice for performing in adverse situations like heat waves, blizzards, and high altitude.


If your high school team is from Florida where you train at sea level year-round, you might be feeling intimidated when you hear that the National Championships will be held high in a mountain town in Colorado. On the other hand, players from Northern California may start to feel nervous when competing in championships in the hot, humid Midwest after training for months in mild, dry weather.

Whether the extreme environment your athletes are headed to is hot, cold, or at high altitude, you may be tempted to look for a supplement or treatment that can help them quickly adapt and adjust. But Laura Lewis, PhD, Director of Science at the U.S. Ant-Doping Agency, says there’s no pill out there that can help an athlete adapt. However, she does have some advice for performing in adverse situations like heat waves, blizzards, and high altitude.

1: Your body is built to adapt
“Our bodies are amazing, and they can respond to each of these different environments that we expose them to,” she says. “It just takes time. There's no magic pill. Respect the environment that you're in and adjust your training or your level of exertion accordingly, and then make sure that you're allowing your body to recover while you're in these different environments.”

2: Early is better
The gold standard for athletes is to go as early as possible to the location that has different conditions in order to get acclimatized. “Your body does adapt quite quickly: for example, just an extra week in a hot environment can make a big difference to how you're going to feel and perform,” Lewis adds.

It will feel harder when you first arrive. “If you are able to go to a location a few days before and do some acclimatization, the first time you go and do a run, you're going to notice that your heart rate is really, really high,” Lewis says. “But then the body starts to adapt to that. By the fifth day, it's going to feel a lot easier doing that same exercise, because the heat has stimulated a number of adaptations within your body that allow you to cope better overall.”

3: Prep at home for heat
“Obviously, early travel to event locations is not going to be accessible for everybody,” Lewis admits. But you can still prepare at home for the heat. “If you're a track athlete, do some more runs on a treadmill in a warm environment, or even just without a fan in the gym,” Lewis suggests. “The more you can raise your core temperature and stimulate your body to adapt that way, the better.”

But be careful, she adds. “It's obviously really important to be safe, because high schoolers are not going to have the same level of monitoring and support as an Olympic athlete would have doing these various trial sessions.”

4: Stay cool
“If you're not doing much acclimatization work, particularly when going into a hot environment, then you just need to think about your strategies when you're there to try to keep yourself as cool as possible,” Lewis explains. “Stay in the hotel or in the air conditioning until quite close to the game, making sure that you're adequately hydrated and that you do have access to drinks during and after.”

Essentially, Lewis recommends pre-cooling your body. If your body starts at a lower core temperature before your event, then it's going to take longer for your body temperature to reach that critical temperature where it can't perform, or where you're going to struggle. “Drink a slushy or have some shaved ice,” she adds. “Have something like that where the drink is in ice form, and then has to change from ice to a liquid inside of you. That change of state actually takes away body heat from your core and cools you down.” Other tactics include wearing an ice vest or using cold towels that are dipped in ice on the back of the neck. “Do what you can to lower your core temperature in advance of the event to buy yourself a bit more time when you're actually playing the game.”

5: Cold weather is all about clothing choice
Adapting to cold isn’t too difficult for most athletes, but the clothing can be tricky. “Clothing choices are obviously going to be your big friend here,” Lewis says. “There's not too much body adaptation: Dress appropriately to try to keep yourself warm. It's important to test the clothes you're going to wear though, because running in gloves and tights versus shorts and a singlet has a different feeling. And if you’re wearing gloves, having any drinks or fuel during a race will impact your dexterity.”

6: Altitude is worth the early arrival
“The longer you can be at altitude before an event, the better. If it was a really important event for an elite athlete, you'd be getting there at least three weeks before, but obviously, that's not going to be practical for most of us,” says Lewis. “Even a couple of days can help, though. And for most high school and college level athletes, it's better to spend money to go to the place a few days early rather than investing in expensive altitude training equipment,” she adds.

There are different stages of adaptation to altitude. “In the first day or two, your body's just trying to go into survival mode,” says Lewis. “Your breathing rate increases, you'll end up urinating a lot in order to concentrate your blood. You haven't made any more blood, but you've just really concentrated it so that it can carry oxygen around the body a bit more efficiently. Sleep is often quite disrupted. It's not uncommon to wake up in the middle of the night gasping for breath, but that’s just your body adapting and trying to work on a short-term solution.”

Then, it gets easier: “The longer you spend at altitude, the more those acute responses calm down and the adaptive responses take over. Your body actually starts to make more red blood cells, you have more blood to carry oxygen around your body, and everything gradually starts to feel a little bit easier.”

7: Pay attention to nutrition in extreme conditions
“After really hot games, you might not feel like eating,” Lewis warns. “But if you're at a tournament, it will be really important to restore your energy sources. You might just need to think about different ways to get the nutrition in, maybe using liquid-based energy. Even if you really can't stomach anything solid to start with, don't neglect the recovery and the restoration of nutrients just because you don't feel like eating.”

In cold environments, athletes may find that the body is using more energy to keep itself warm. “When it’s cold, you may find that you need to fuel yourself a bit more than normal,” says Lewis. “Prioritize having a little more food around your training session or your event.”

Hydration is also key at altitude. “Because of the increased breathing rate, you actually get a bit more dehydrated because you're losing water every time you breathe,” Lewis says. “So, you need to think about hydration. You might also need a bit more fuel because you're burning carbohydrate, not fat, which means you can run out of energy a bit quicker.”

8: Manage expectations
“It's really important for athletes going to altitude or any extreme environment to realize that it is going to feel hard, so their pacing and performance is going to be lower to start with,” says Lewis. “Athletes also need to respect that they're going to need longer recovery in between efforts.”

TAKEAWAY
Extreme environments present major challenges for athletes who can’t go early to acclimate, but with some early interventions like hotter training indoors, choosing the right clothing, or understanding how the body responds to altitude, it’s possible to have a safe and healthy performance.


TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 3 Signs that It’s Time to Pivot and Set New Goals
(4/28/2022)
 
   

3 Signs that It’s Time to Pivot and Set New Goals


Signs parents should look for to help an athlete decide when it's time to pivot


As parents and as coaches, we often understand that there's value in pursuing a goal, even when it seems unattainable. Every hero's journey encounters some moment of adversity, some chance that they won't reach their goal. And even losing out on a goal has value because it instills resilience.

But at some point, there's also value in pivoting and setting new goals. "In general, we only tell stories of perseverance,” notes TrueSport Expert, family physician, and resiliency guru Dr. Deborah Gilboa. “You hear about athletes who persevere through years of struggle, and finally succeed, but that can be a damaging perspective. To say that perseverance is always the answer, that perseverance towards achievement is always the best or right path, simply isn't true. Resilience means navigating change and coming through it as the kind of person you want to be. And if the only kind of person your child wants to be is a winner, that's a problem because then persevering towards achievement is the only option. And on that path, you have to recognize the risk of permanent damage."

Here, Gilboa shares the signs parents should look for to help an athlete decide when it's time to pivot.

1. Danger, not discomfort
Kids need to hone the skill of differentiating between danger and discomfort, says Gilboa. That means knowing if pursuit of a goal is uncomfortable, or if it could be harmful to their physical or mental health. "This is what Simone Biles showed at the Tokyo Games when she decided not to compete in certain events," Gilboa explains. "She wasn't dealing with tremendous discomfort. She was in danger. We ask and expect our young athletes to figure out how to manage discomfort, and yes, that will serve them incredibly well. The more discomfort they know how to manage successfully, the better. That will help them towards their goal. But if we do not teach them the skill of differentiating between tremendously uncomfortable and actually dangerous, then we do not allow them to protect their own safety."

2. Yellow warning flags
"Unfortunately, many kids will not have the maturity and the wisdom to figure out when they are in a dangerous situation, so it’s our job to keep an eye out for the yellow flags, not just the red flags," Gilboa says. "Red flags are more obvious: a child isn't eating, he's not speaking to you often, her grades are plummeting. But the yellow flags are subtle. One of the things that adults can do is to literally make a list of the behaviors that a child starts doing or stops doing when they're beginning to have a hard time. For one of my kids, he starts sleeping through his alarm. For my other kid, he starts losing stuff. What signs does your child show when he's just starting to struggle?"

3. A desire to quit
If your child is feeling upset that they won't hit a major goal and is ready to give up the sport entirely as a result, that's normal, but suggest that before they pivot away from sport entirely, they take a break first. "Remember that developmentally, young athletes tend to think in binary ways: I quit, or I don't. But there is almost always a whole list of other options," says Gilboa. "So, look for ways to hit pause instead of stop. Simone Biles did not hit stop. She hit a really dramatic pause. She didn't leave Tokyo. She didn't even leave the mat. She stayed there, she became coach and cheerleader for her teammates, and she competed in another individual event days later, as it turned out. She hit pause and continued to behave as the kind of person she wanted to be."

Takeaway
Understand that no goal is more important than your athlete's happiness as a human. "Together, you and your athlete have to figure out what their big picture goals are. Winning should only be a small part of them, because the damage of winning at all costs is fairly self-evident," Gilboa says. "The long-term goal should be about the person your child wants to become, with strong values and convictions. Imagine raising a child who, no matter what obstacles life throws them on the way towards their achievements, can continue to be the kind of person you and they want them to be."


TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.