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May, 2022

Mental Health Awareness Spotlight: EAA Wellness Checks

This Mental Health Awareness Month has us talking to our members about mental health and how we can better help our athletes not only care about their physical, but mental well-being also. Elkhorn Athletic Association recently shared with us a new program they created to help with just this topic. Read all about our first Mental Health Awareness club spotlight: 

EAA assistant executive director and director of soccer, Rob Herringer, has worked diligently to clearly define holistic development and build resources to help support coaches, parents, and athletes for all eight sports at EAA.  Our coaching philosophy is to develop great athletes, but also to develop great people outside of the performance environment.  As the sport performance director, I have worked closely with Rob to create programming and curriculum to develop athletes physically, but we feel the mental piece is equally (if not more) important.  

We recently developed the EAA Athlete Wellness Check to give athletes a tool to honestly let their coaches know how they are feeling both physically and mentally.  Athletes are encouraged to complete the questionnaire with their parents once per week prior to their first training session.  The categories include: fatigue, soreness/pain, nutrition, hydration, sleep, mood/stress, and overall readiness.  The maximum “Total Wellness Score” on our questionnaire is 28.  Athletes have the ability to share as much or as little information as they would like about why they scored themselves a certain way. 

I co-coached a 19U girls select soccer team with Emily Michaels this year, and we piloted the implementation of the Athlete Wellness Check with our team over the winter. The results were very eye-opening for us. Our athletes were open and honest about how they were feeling both physically and mentally. We learned all but two of the girls were participating in early morning conditioning at their high schools on the same days as club training sessions. We also learned that some players were overwhelmed with schoolwork and some were struggling with relationships.  Several players commented on how they were not properly fueling or hydrating.   

One week several players scored in the mid-teens.  Coach Emily and I decided to adjust our training plan.  We knew the girls weren’t physically or mentally prepared for a challenging training session.  Emily led some in-person player check-in exercises, and the girls were very open about how they were feeling and explained why. It was optional to share out loud with the group, but most of the girls were eager to speak. After check-ins, we had a nutrition discussion on how to fuel and hydrate for intense training sessions and games.  We felt this was super beneficial heading into their high school soccer season, which doesn't allow for very much rest or recovery. The check-ins and nutrition discussion took about 40 minutes. We let the girls decide what they wanted to do for the remaining 20 minutes of training, and they decided to scrimmage. Morale was high and they had a lot of fun! 

If multiple athletes on the team have total wellness scores of less than 20, then coaches should definitely consider making modifications to their session plan. Sometimes athletes need a night off from training or need someone to check in with them instead of an intense training session.  If one or two athletes have low scores, then coaches should meet with those players individually prior to training and make any modifications if necessary.  There may also be more extreme scenarios where coaches need to meet with the athlete and parents to discuss an action plan.  We hope coaches across all eight of our sports here at EAA will implement the wellness check moving forward.  The health and safety of our athletes is our top priority!      

Thank you for EAA for sharing this program with us so we can share it with our members. If your club is interested in implementing a similar program let us know! We would be happy to connect you with EAA to learn more.     



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Boystown, Nebraska 68010


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