Some Losses Go Deep!

14 04 2009

Shaun GoodsellAfter working with athletes for many years, I have noticed that there are many different types of losses that athletes need to be prepared to face. Certainly, the most noticeable are those that are represented on the scoreboard. However, there’s a loss that some are dealing with that cannot be measured on the scoreboard.

The type of loss I am speaking of is that of identity. What I mean is that some young athletes are told from a young age that they are “special”, meaning they are very gifted, having great talent, and can’t miss to have a great future in sports. These young athletes are often given significant attention, different opportunities, special privileges, and essentially, they build their identity around their performance. As a result, they often build an over inflated view of themselves that leads them to believe that they are invincible. The problem with this arises when they are not able to continue to perform the way they once did. Injuries, change in body structure, emotional changes, and other unforeseeable dynamics converge and leave that young person feeling lost without a stable interior to support these changes. When this happens the athlete truly experiences a deep loss. This loss can be compared to that of a best friend and comes with the deep sadness, anger, and sense of hopelessness of a death. Helping athletes understand this and rebuild their sense of identity around their character and internal attributes will help them work through this very real loss.

Shaun Goodsell

I would love to hear your thoughts, comments and experiences around this!  Please comment below!

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3 responses

15 04 2009
William Leier

Hey Shaun, Nice article. While, I never experienced any of the loss levels we you illustrated in the article, I can easily see how this could happen. I think that with myself and other athletes the problem of a grandiose self image can impair how we interact with our surrounding. Coincidentally, when the athlete is no longer treated as the “elite” member her/ she once was, this is what causes the confusion. I personally feel that a lot of athletes need somebody who will keep their ego in check. I don’t feel like this should be a locker room role though, instead, a close friend , a parent, or someone like yourself(I feel like you did a good job of this for me. HA). That being said, I have seen athletes irrationally react to injury time and time again. I think that the important thing to remember when dealing with the athlete is that a hurt member of the squad is still a member of the squad. Certain players and coaches seem to forget that, as they fail to acknowledge the injured player, which I believe furthermore impairs the players psyche.

16 04 2009
Lisa

How much of this has to do with parents pushing their kids to live “their dream”? Kids can no longer play 3 sports it is usually only 1 or possibly 2 sports. They also have to play all year round, attend camps and train all summer. No wonder kids get burned out. Also face it, it is a small number that make a Division I school let alone go on to play professionally. I feel bad for the say society has made these kids into something they are not. Simple rule….don’t put your eggs into one basket.

28 04 2009
Shaun Goodsell

Lisa, I think that parents play a significant role in how their kids develop expectations and find a sense belonging. In this blog I wanted to represent how difficult it is for athletes that are talented to keep themselves balanced and not totally immersed in having their identity 100 percent about how they perform, I think some kids tend to believe that their value as human beings is only about how they perform and when that performance lets them down or goes away they experience grief and loss consistent with that of a best friend. I appreciate you taking the time to read and respond.

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