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During the uncertain times that we live in today socialization can be difficult, especially for children and younger individuals. The spread of distance learning and quarantine has effected people in greater ways than typically thought of. Without the usual social outlets and experiences, social skills already learned and being learned can fade away or even fail to finish developing. Specifically within the sport environment, learning to appropriately communicate one's thoughts and feelings can partially dictate the emotional connections among teammates and coaches; as well as, creating a safer environment for training. Although this is only one of two components when discussing people or communication skills, the next is learning to become a good listener by acknowledging and considering others thoughts and feelings. Without this second component the sport environment can become chaotic and toxic for all members involved.
Once these two components are mastered by an individual it creates the ability for that person to effectively deal with conflict, difficult opponents, or negative teammates and staff within the sport environment.
There are ways within a practice setting that these skills can be developed with the cooperation of coaches, athletes, and families. One of the simplest ways to integrate people skills training is to address previous or current conflicts and discuss: how they were resolved (if they have been); how they could be resolved; and the pros and cons of all possible solutions. Families can help facilitate more open, positive communication between a coach and athlete by encouraging their child to use their own voice and communicate with their coach in more of a one-on-one style. Coaches can help teach their athletes better people skills just by leading by example, and with encouragement to the athletes to speak up for themselves.
The consistency of socialization and the development of people skills is necessary for the proper psychological and social maturation of a person. Sports are a fantastic way to practice and incorporate these skills in our current day and age, while also encouraging physical fitness amongst the younger generations.
Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments below!
Articles are generalized information for all athletes. Sport psychology is an amazing tool to help take an athlete to the next level of training and competition by incorporating a new perspective on sport performance.
If interested in private sessions regarding mental performance training, please contact Alisha Barnes.
West Virginia University graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sport & Exercise Psychology and Master of Science degree in Sport & Exercise Psychology from University of Kentucky. She currently works with REVEL Gymnastics and extreme sport athletes.