Life Balance & having purpose
I recently wrote an article about my life off the pitch and how my time spent working and volunteering helps me to become a better athlete. Throughout my journey as a coach I have heard people say they want to give up certain areas of their life so they can concentrate on their hockey. Some of the Hockeyroos and Kookaburras have done this too but it is an area that the Australian Institute of Sport is working towards changing. Studies have shown that athletes with other areas of focus in their lives have longer and more successful careers. The reason the AIS are looking into it are more around mental health as we know that when sport does not go well or athletes transition out this is a danger time for mental health issues. Having other areas in your life to focus on can make a huge difference.
You can have a read of the article here
This was an interesting read.
Do you think your desire to always be busy, the drive to fit in as much as possible, is shared by a lot of elite athletes? I don't have that drive, if I try and fit in too many things my brain overloads, and that's part of why I don't think I'd manage the mental demands of reaching that level in sport, regardless of my talent.
How do you frame the advice to be more well-rounded, to maintain interests & work outside of hockey, especially if it's a younger athlete who is very focused, very driven, and interprets time spent doing other stuff as time not spent working towards their long-term goal of playing elite sport? Or interprets planning for life away from sport as undermining the self-confidence required to reach that goal, as an implicit acknowledgement that the goal might not be achieved?
I like that website, too. I read another very good article on the US version 2 years ago, it's also an elite goalie talking about mental health, finding a better balance & purpose, although it's ice hockey and it starts off in a much darker place. Definitely worth a read: https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/corey-hirsch-dark-dark-dark
It is an excellent point you raise and something that I have had discussions with coaches about over the years. Where do you draw the line between balance and committing whole heartedly to your sport. There are certainly people who believe the more hours you put in the greater your chance of success. I do agree that a large commitment is required for any person to be successful at something. It takes thousands of hours to learn and perfect a skill but the argument around balance is more about - how can you feel a sense of fulfilment with your life, how can you keep perspective when things don't go wrong, how can you develop the coping strategies you need for elite level sport.
They are all very interesting topics and I'm keen to hear more of your experience. Thanks for writing and also sharing the article.
I would like to put a different angle on this.
I am a military veteran and have also helped some of my colleagues through some dark days. I believe they are similar to elite athletes who achieve and have to work and live a certain way to achieve success in their chosen field. When they get to retire or even if they dedicate themselves totally they can suffer similar anxiety or mental health issues as they assimilate into a civilian career.
It is great these challenges are recognised and support is in place. I think there are similar feelings dispite there can be other complications. It is supporting the transition that is important.
this is a fascinating field to research.