In a competitive environment where grit and toughness are respected, teaching young athletes how to take care of themselves physically and mentally is critical.
As guiding force, parents and coaches have the ability – and the responsibility – to help influence how young swimmers keep a healthy outlook on competing, especially when it comes to coping with injuries.
The physical pain of an injury is undeniable, but the invisible emotional scars they leave behind can be much harder to overcome. Athletes often pride themselves on working through the pain; but parents and coaches need to remind their young athletes to look beyond the short-term and ask for help when they need it.
“Life is hard, swimming is hard, and school is stressful. There shouldn’t be any stigma to reach out for help when you need it,” said Emily Brunemann, sponsored athlete of Dolfin Swimwear and an advocate for the Athletes Connected pilot program at the University of Michigan.
The program is designed to increase awareness of mental health issues, reduce the stigma of help-seeking, and promote positive coping skills among student athletes.
Recognizing that it takes great confidence and character to speak up and reach out for help is a harder lesson to teach. Ironically, getting the therapeutic help is often the key to breaking through any mental barriers that injuries can leave behind. The best way to resolve any mental hurdles is to confront the fears and emotions head-on. Learning a healthy approach to manage emotions and coping techniques will build inner strength and confidence, enabling the young athlete to focus on the next win, not yesterday’s problems.
“If I didn’t learn strategies to be confident in myself, I would not have the swimming career I currently have,” said Brunemann.
Toughness, perseverance and discipline are the marks of great competitor. Learning confidence and how to advocate for oneself is a personal win.
About Dolfin Swimwear
Dolfin® Swimwear has remained a competitive brand of swimwear and aquatic accessories for over fifty years. Prior to launching the competition swimwear line, the company produced parachutes for military use during WWII. Dolfin® remains committed to quality innovation in aquatics and is widely considered to produce the world’s best training suits. Worn by athletes across the globe, Dolfin® Swimwear retains a global leadership position in aquatics.
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Courtesy of Doflin Swimwear, a SwimSwam partner.