For Coaches
Creating a sport support system that delivers

Creating a sport support system that delivers


By Sara Robinson, MA

Young athletes often have many individuals in their lives that provide support, including coaches, parents, friends and more.

Yet even when an individual has many people in his life, he may not have all of the types of support he needs.

Take some time to reflect on the types of support that are most important to you. Perhaps you need:

  • An unconditional supporter                                       
  • A motivator                                                                
  • A person you can vent to                                           
  • Someone who makes you laugh                                
  • Someone you can be vulnerable around                   
  • Someone who sets a great example                         
  • A person who understands your experiences            
  • A person whose advice you trust

Who else do you need in your sport (or life) support network?

Keep in mind that one person may fill more than one need for you, and that your needs will be different from others. It is important to identify the types of support we need and then determine if we have people in our lives to fill those needs. If we do not have our needs met, we can seek out individuals to fill the gaps or ask those closest to us to provide additional types of support.


So what does all of this mean for your athletes? If your athletes are not getting their fundamental need for connectedness met, they will not be fulfilled personally, their motivation is likely to decrease and this can negatively affect them in sports.

Start by talking with your athletes about the importance of support and the kinds of support they need. Then you can determine how to support them in sports as well as help to identify anything that is missing on and off the field in terms of support.

If, for example, you notice that many of your athletes want positive feedback but that is hard with you and only one assistant coach, then you can create a culture of verbal positive support within your team.

If you hear that many athletes want their parents to attend more games and sport-related activities, you can personally invite the parents to join, or work to create a schedule that may allow more parents to attend.

Helping your athletes experience more support can help increase happiness, decrease anxiety and enhance connectedness, all of which help create positive relationships and lead to meaningful experiences in sports and life.

Help your athletes understand that support comes in many forms and may come from more than one or two people. By helping your team learn about the kinds of support they need – and understand how to find it – you are helping them on and off the field.

Sara Robinson is a Mental Skills Coach with a Master’s Degree in Sport Psychology. She resides in the Bay Area, Calif., but works with athletes and coaches all over the country to help improve their mental skills, communication habits, and increase their enjoyment in sport. For more information, visit her website:

Coaching Support System Feedback Anxiety Happiness

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