Sport is a dedication, a passion and comes with personal sacrifice. Coping with any change in this focus can be extremely challenging emotionally and ‘just deal with it’ often doesn’t work. Cracks in that immense determination can begin to show when coping with injury, lack of self-belief, life challenges, emotional regulation or retirement. The question ‘what next?’ for many sports professionals is profound. By having emotional support and understanding we can work together to build resilience and work with the changes that are faced.
Sport is not a stand-alone physical activity and requires mental ability and emotional regulation. It is a challenge to manage the mind, body and spirit especially when experiencing continued pressure. For young people working through sporting academies it can be a really tough environment for them and their family – so much desire to deliver and achieve whilst managing the internal and external pressure and trying to be emotionally strong and resilient – quite a lot for a young person!
To become a professional sportsperson takes a lifetime of commitment. But then what happens after you have a life changing injury, or your career comes to end – everything changes.
Through my work on grief and loss I began working with sporting professionals who had experienced a career end through retirement or injury and were dealing with the emotions of loss and change. That loss is felt so deeply as they pondered what to do now they were ‘outside’ of their life. Having the emotional support to work out who they are now sport is not their life focus in the same way it used to be, then allows space to consider what to do next.
My work with young people 13+ in the academy system looks at understanding emotional resilience and continuing to build on self esteem & confidence. By exploring how the mind, body and emotions all fit together in a supportive environment it allows for the growth of the emotional tolerance necessary for continued sporting development. It gives space away from clubs and family to talk about feelings, be supported and assist emotional development. I also support young people (or family) coming out of the academy system which can be hard to process due to sudden change.
My work with adults ranges from emotionally supporting sporting professionals who are currently in their field of sport, to those who have left their profession.
Having this space to explore these feelings can help us to work through and accept where you are now and what can be next.