Coaches Corner: Wellness

Written by Coach Emily

To me, wellness is a state of both physical and mental wellbeing.  As a coach, I put a lot of effort into teaching coping skills and techniques to my players that they can continue to use long after the season ends.  I like doing wellness exercises during my practices, both at the beginning and end.  

At the start of practice sessions, I like to do a “check-in” with my students, and this serves several purposes.  My questions are usually straightforward, “describe your day in one word” or “give me one word for what you’re feeling right now.”  This is an easy way to get them more comfortable talking about their feelings, especially in front of each other.  A big part of wellness comes from the environment.  Check-in questions give me a chance to start building a supportive, honest, and safe environment.  The last important purpose that check-ins serve, is that they give me insight into what my players are feeling at the beginning of a practice.  This lets me know if I need to change or adjust my plan, depending on the mood of the team.    

After checking in with all of my players, I like introducing different breathing exercises.  These can be meditation or visualization, and help bring an element of focus to the environment.  I tend to prefer breathing exercises, especially meditation.  After these exercises, I like to remind my players that these are things they can implement in their day to day lives.  I tell them that knowing how to take a deep breath is just as important as knowing when.  

Between games, I implement an important practice that I hope becomes a habit.  I send my players to get up and take three minutes to walk away from their computers.  I encourage them to get up, grab a drink, stretch, pet their dog if they have one.  It’s an important habit to be in, and encourages a mental reset between games-- win or loss.  This is a habit that I hope they take into their solo games as well.  When they return, my first question is always how do you feel.  Making sure to process any frustration, and highlight any triumphs, is incredibly important.  It’s another testament to a healthy environment, but also it’s important to process any residual poor feelings between each game.  This allows players to move into the next game with a clear head.  

At the end of practices, I always ask my students a reflection question.  Usually it’s “what did you learn?” or “what’s one thing you’ll work on between practices?”  This puts some ownership of what happened during the practice on your students.  Reflecting is also an important part of wellness, and the learning cycle.  This is also important feedback for me, and lets me know what parts of the practice really stuck with my players.  

I’ve also recently started leaving my students with a wellness challenge for the week.  These are usually tuned to their needs, including solutions to things that come up during check-ins.  For example, if I’m hearing often that my students are tired, I may give them a challenge to pick a time to go to sleep and try sticking to it for the week.  I try to make these challenges as minimally invasive on their day to day lives as possible, while still having a positive impact.  I believe that a lot of wellness comes from the formation of positive habits.  As a coach, I like providing students with a good foundation for those habits. 

About Coach Emily

Hi, I’m Emily.  I’ve been coaching with Connected Camps and NASEF for the last three seasons.  My background is in work with young people, and esports is my first love.  Through coaching in the NASEF tournament, I’m excited to get to combine those things.  I came up through the 4H program, and am now a club leader.  Coming up through a leadership program had a huge impact on me, and I work hard to bring that element to the teams that I coach as well.  

In the past, I’ve also worked extensively in creating adaptive programming for youth with advanced needs of all kinds.  These programs were based in adventure and animal science, with social emotional and experiential learning at their heart.  Creating engaging and inclusive coaching plans has become one of my favorite aspects of coaching, and I’m excited to share that with you all.