JOPLIN, Mo. — Children who are involved in sports are often hard workers and high achievers.
But the thrill of the game can also bring on additonal pressure and stress.
And sometimes the person who can help them the most, is the one calling the shots on the field.
With every win and loss — there’s no question that sports evoke emotion.
But with the pressure to perform — student athletes can face unique challenges.
David Wermuth/Therapist & Master Social Worker, said, “They might be more vulnerable to mental health symptoms of they’re investing emotionally and time and energy into a sport.”
And sometimes the first person to notice when something just isn’t right, isn’t even a parent or a friend… But a coach.
“A coach is a great, supportive person that sees the potential in a child or a student athlete. And then calls forth that energy, that potential, that capability to perform, to do well. And so coaches have that close relationship.”
Corey Roy has been the strength and conditioning coach at Webb City for six years.
Corey Roy, Webb City Strength & Conditioning Coach, said, “With coaching in general and teaching included, you know we get into this because of kids and how much we care about kids.”
He says the key to success in any team, starts with forming individual relationships.
“Getting the kids to know that you care about them and love them first is very important, because after that anything is possible. You know they trust you, they believe in you and they know that you’re there for them.”
Spending so much time together, coaches are often able to notice red flags in a child’s behavior.
“Withdrawing from friends, isolating more, poor communication skills with friends… changes in performance,” said Wermuth.
“Maybe by the way they react to your instructions… maybe they just react negatively to something they normally don’t,” said Roy.
Most local coaches go through professional training — so they know what to do when a student is having mental health issues or thoughts of suicide.
“That training has helped us be able to handle, or at least get those kids pointed in the right direction to get some help.”
And with that knowledge and influence, coaches can also teach their athletes how to intervene if a friend is in crisis.
“They can teach this to the peers of the student athletes or the other kids that coaches have, it’s called bystander intervention,” said Wermuth.
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health and needs someone to talk to, we urge you to call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-talk.
We also have more resources for you on four states home page dot com — just look for the “suicide crisis” tab.