|A non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation|
|Advocating For a Written Sport Psychology Curriculum for Youth and School Sports Teams|
"Culture eats strategy for breakfast" Attributed to Peter Druker, business management consultant.
The whole community suffers when schools, as well as youth and school athletics, are not considered a place to address community issues such as violence, addictions, eating disorders, obesity and depression. The cost of these societal maladies is enormous (at least 22% of the Massachusetts state budget in 2008. Less than 1% of that same budget is for prevention)
Schools and sports teams are ideal places to teach mental health skills because they shape young minds into habits of thinking that lead to emotional health, self-control, academic achievement and long-lasting relationships.
Sports teams are built on an 19th century model. Youth sports directors and athletic directors of schools hand off the team to a coach. Each coach has his/her own system, usually based on how they were coached. Training is increasing, which is a good thing, but each team is its own entity based entirely on that coach's attitude and the culture he builds on his/her team.
A 21st century model would look far different. It would build upon the notion that there is now a science that defines the way to inmprove performance called sport psychology and teams are the place to practice these skills. It would provide texts/articles to the players to read, just as the educational model does, which would give players different perspectives other than just the coach's.
The principals of the science would be given in a class-like setting and again, like an educational science class, the team would act as the laboratory to pracice the skills that are learned. All coaches would be held accountable for teaching these skills so their would be one educational product that kids are learning. Different styles and communications skill would offer ample room to coaches to teach their own way, but within a broad skill base that is uniform.
The skills learned in sport psychology, like other social-emotional learning (SEL), are recognizing and controlling emotion, developing concern and caring for others, establishing positive relationships, making responsible decisions and handling challenging situations constructively and ethically.
See http://sel4mass.org for lots of information about SEL here in Massachusetts.
GetPsychedSports.org advocates for the use of schools and sport teams as place to teach preventative mental health skills. In so doing, students are learning habit-forming ways of thinking that can improve academics and reduce incidents of violence, addictions, eating disorders and other societal ills.
Changing the culture of sports takes time and a willingness and enthusiasm of principals, superintendants and athletic directors to make a change to the 21st century. It takes the same desire that we ask of our players - persistance, resiliency and focus.
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Social Emotional Learning (SEL) has proven to improve behavior and academics. See this clip from PBS's NewsHour with Jim Lehrer about the effect of such teaching and think how it could reduce behaviors that cause so much pain and cost so much money.
The piece was produced by Learning Matters at http://learningmatters.tv/