Every player, former player, coach or parent is unique and must be seen for who they are. BUT, the sport experience is a common one that requires specific things from its participants. How each person manages the challenges within their environment will be different. These challenges may relate to performance, emotional regulation, guiding or working with others, reconnecting with purpose, or finding fulfillment with life after sport. So, I take what is known about the common experiences in sport, merge it with the psychology of personal development, and apply it to your unique life situation to help you move towards your goals.
Some of the things that make high-level sport unique:
- Highly competitive
- Serious practice often starts at a young age
- Not an activity everyone will be able to turn into a profession
- Has a finite life-span
- Typically, performance retirement occurs at a young age (ex. An athlete retiring at 27)
- High level of connection/intimacy with team members. (Like a new family)
- Higher level of emotional expression than in other fields
- Potential for life and legacy changing wealth
- Success comes with public fame or public shame
As a framework:
These professions have existed for thousands of years but have their roots even further back in hunter/gatherer societies. The performer in essence has taken over a social archetype of the hunter as hunters become less crucial to society’s survival. Performers in their unique struggle refine a physical, mental, and instinctive skill that is enacted during a finite performance while success and failure loom large. It may not be as life-threatening as hunting was, but figuratively there is still a life and death aspect.
Understanding the roots of these professions, and how they traditionally existed within society helps me work with the current and former performer to manage the emotions, thinking patterns, and social dynamics present in their everyday life and present with others working in performance environments.
I have found that the skills required to successfully support people within these endeavors also applies for those guiding the performers. This includes working with Coaches, Teachers, and Executives on both performance and life issues.