7 Ways a Coach Can Enhance Resilience in Young Athletes

7 Ways a Coach Can Enhance Resilience in Young Athletes

What is Resilience?

Resilience is a skill that is essential for all young people to develop. According to Benard (2004) –

“…personal resilience strengths are the individual characteristics associated with healthy development and life success”(p.13).

These personal strengths do not cause resilience, but are the positive developmental outcomes that demonstrate that these innate individual characteristics are engaged (Benard, 2004). The four categories of personal resilience strengths are:

  1. social competence (communication skills; being responsive to others; having empathy and caring for others; forgiveness and compassion);
  2. problem-solving (planning; flexibility; help-seeking; critical and creative thinking);
  3. autonomy (a secure sense of identity; self-worth; initiative; ability to cope; sense of humour); and
  4. sense of purpose (hope for future; personal goals and values; sense of faith; connectedness with others) – (Benard, 2004).

To develop these innate personal strengths and produce good developmental outcomes, young people need to be in a nurturing environment. Some of the environments the young people are involved in include schools, families, and communities (including sporting clubs). A nurturing environment is one where the young person experiences caring relationships, high but achievable expectations, and authentic opportunities to participate and contribute (Benard, 2004).


7 Ways a Coach Can Enhance Resilience in Young Athletes

One of the people, apart from family, friends and peers who can impact upon and play a very important role in the athlete’s environment is their coach. So what can a coach do to support the social and emotional wellbeing needs of their athletes and develop a player’s innate personal strengths? Some strategies may include:

1. Develop and implement processes and practices to encourage connectedness –

For example – if a player is traveling away to a tournament, identify some people they may be able to practice with or if they are traveling overseas give them some trusted contacts in the area they are going);

2. Express and model empathy –

For example – if an athlete is talking to you about an experience, listen to the athlete and try to understand and share your athlete’s feelings.

3. Plan goals with the athlete –

For example – sit down with the athlete and talk through their goals and identify if they are realistic in the timeframe available.

4. Work on personal relationships as well as relationships between young people and parents or external support agencies –

For example – identify a team of people (fitness trainer, coach, sports psychologist, parent, school teacher) who can help the athlete achieve their goals and model effective communication skills;

5. Provide young people with multiple opportunities and contexts in which to experience feelings of competence and/or develop competencies.

For example – give constructive feedback and realistic praise to the athlete;

6. Establish processes, practices and relationships that enhance self-worth and promote positive coping strategies for real life situations.

For example – suggesting the athlete keep a diary/journal to reflect on their thoughts and feelings and help them identify strategies to cope with these feelings;

7. Enhance opportunities for the athlete to make real-life decisions and have a say in their training and tournament schedules.

For example – allow the athlete to lead a training session.


Over to You…

I hope this has given you (the coach) some insight in to how to enhance resilience for your athletes. It is my hope, that the sporting community can work together to develop the innate personal strengths of young athletes and contribute to the development of well-adjusted human beings and not just good athletes.

If you liked this article and want to keep taking the next step towards freedom and opening your heartplease feel free to join the Cultivating Well-Being in Adolescent Athletes community by clicking here.


Reference –

Benard, B. (2004). Resiliency – What Have We Learned. San Francisco, CA: WestEd.

P.S. I originally wrote this article for Tennis Australia when I was completing the High Performance Coaching Course. It was published in the Tennis Magazine in July 2006. A HUGE thank you to Ian McGregor who found the original article for me – I am so grateful as I know in my heart this is my purpose, it has just taken me a while to heal and get clarity about my own adventure around tennis. I originally named the article – Enhancing Resilience in Young People, however you can see below, that was changed and no I am not a fan of “toughening up.”

Also – a shout out to Tracy Zilm whom was my manager at the time I wrote this article and edited it for me. Thanks heaps Tracy!



The Why, What, Where, Who and When of Mindfulness in Sport

The Why, What, Where, Who and When of Mindfulness in Sport

The past few weeks, I have been talking to people about mindfulness and how it relates to sports people. Subsequently, today I wanted to share some more about the why, what, where, who and when of mindfulness in sport.

Let’s get started…  


Why Mindfulness in Sport?

There are many reasons why practicing mindfulness can be beneficial to athletes in sport. Some of the benefits of mindfulness include –

  • decreasing the symptoms of anxiety,
  • allows you to access flow states (i.e. optimal human potential),
  • increased life satisfaction,
  • increasing a sense of empathy,
  • increases in mindful attention, focus and awareness,
  • decreasing symptoms of chronic pain, and
  • increasing well-being.
“You might be tempted to avoid the messiness of daily living for the tranquility of stillness and peacefulness. This of course would be an attachment to stillness, and like any strong attachment, it leads to delusion. It arrests development and short-circuits the cultivation of wisdom.” ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn


What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness in everyday life is the ultimate challenge and practice. It is a way of being, of seeing, of tapping into the full range of our humanity – often seen in playful children fully experiencing life in the here and now. Mindfulness is described by Jon Kabat-Zinn (1994)

“as paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally” (p.4).

Bob Stahl and Elisha Goldstein (2010) report “in Sanskrit, it’s known as smrti, from the root word smr, meaning “to remember” and in Pali, the language of the earliest Buddhist scriptures, it’s known as sati (mindfulness)” (p.15).

The Greater Good Science Centre at UC Berkely say –

“Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.”

Through the practice of mindfulness, individuals can become more aware of their thoughts, feelings and body sensations in the present moment. This observing, non-reactive perspective enables you to consciously respond with clarity and focus, rather than react out of a habitual pattern. It opens up the possibility of working more wisely with difficulties in life and choose what is nourishing to ourselves and others.


Where Can I Use Mindfulness in Sport?

Simply – everywhere! Yep, over the years (and after being an athlete) I have invested many hours researching, learning and discovering how to be a well-being. For me, one of those keys has been developing mindfulness and I use it daily in my life and wish I had learn it when I was playing tennis. Some specific ways would be –

  • effectively dealing with difficulties and distractions in sport,
  • communicating mindfulness with coaches, friends and family,
  • using mindfulness to grow emotional literacy and intelligence,
  • dealing effectively with stress, and
  • enhancing self-regulation.


Who Can Use Mindfulness in Sport?

Again, simply – everyone! Yes, every athlete in every sport can benefit by using mindfulness.  


When Can We Be Mindful in Sport?

Mmm – think you may be getting the drift of this! Again – in many places and some of them I have already identified above. Some other examples include –

  • Failing to meet personal goals and expectations or making mistakes within their sport,
  • Working through injuries and focusing on what they can do to recover,
  • Managing a performance or training plateau,
  • Helping you reach your full potential,
  • Persisting and concentrating on what you can do (not what you can’t),
  • Taking responsibility for difficult sporting experiences, and
  • Keeping a balanced perspective and allowing yourself to move on.


Over to You…

I hope this post has given you some insight in to the 5W’s of Mindfulness in Sport. Over time, I have realised for myself, if I wanted to change my life, I needed to change, which is why I continue to make compassionate choices and live above the line. If you have any questions, please leave any questions or comments below.

Also – if you wanted to read more about my experience in mindfulness and self-compassion, click here. If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartplease feel free to join the Life Beyond Elite Sport community by clicking here.


References –

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. New York, USA: Bantam Dell.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever You Go, There You Are – Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. New York, USA: Hyperion.

Nhat Hahn, T. (2003). Creating True Peace: Ending Violence in Yourself, Your Family, Your Community, and the World. New York, USA: Simon and Schuster.

Stahl, B., & Goldstein, E. (2010). A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook. Oakland, USA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

Emotional Intelligence in Sport – Does It Fit?

Emotional Intelligence in Sport – Does It Fit?

I have been talking about emotional intelligence in sport the past few weeks with colleagues. As I was discussing it, it got me reflecting, so I have decided to put something together under the over-arching theme Emotional Intelligence in Sport – Does It Fit?

Subsequently, in this post, I will discuss the why, what, where, who and when of emotional intelligence and then will leave it up to you to decide if it fits! Let’s get started…


Why Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is what we use when we have authentic, open and honest conversations with our coworkers, effectively work with customers and staff in business, empathise with our spouse or significant other, perform under pressure and support a challenging or distraught child / student.

By having emotional intelligence, it allows us to understand ourselves better, build connections and relationships with others and live a more authentic, healthy, and happy life. There are many other reasons, both professional and personally, of why emotional intelligence is important, including –

  • being able to better adapt to and cope with change,
  • building high performing teams,
  • increased employee engagement,
  • developing trust and empathy within relationships,
  • having a clearer vision and building a great culture, and
  • executing performance effectively and efficiently.


What is Emotional Intelligence?

Originally John Mayer and Peter Salovey (1997) defined emotional intelligence as involving the abilities to –

“…monitor one’s own and other’s feelings, discriminate among them, and use this information to guide’s one thinking and action.”

However, since 1997, Mayer and Salovey have redefined emotional intelligence as –

1. the ability to perceive emotions, 2. to access and generate emotions to assist thought, 3. to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and 4. to reflectively regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth (Mayer & Salovey, 1997).

Then in 2016, Mayer et al, further refined their definition as the four-branch model of emotional intelligence, with the four branches being –

1. perceiving emotion,  2. facilitating thought using emotion,  3. understanding emotions, and  4. managing emotions.


Where Could Emotional Intelligence Be Applied in Sport?

Simply – everywhere! Emotional intelligences for everyone – whether you are a parent of an athlete, an athlete (past or present) or a coach. And emotional intelligence flows out in to all areas of your life. You can become aware of your emotions as you are reading this. Yes, I know it can be challenging as emotional intelligence is not spoken about much or taught (which is one of the reasons I am passionate about emotional literacy and intelligence).

If you are an athlete (past or present), a parent of an athlete or a coach – what impact could being emotional intelligent have? Would it benefit you to have emotional equilibrium, focus and attention in your day? If you are a current athlete – what impact would emotional intelligence have on your performance? Have you ever felt stressed or as though you couldn’t cope with the pressures of performing at an elite level? I certainly wish I had learn how to cultivate emotional awareness and harmony when I was playing tennis 🙂


Who Can Be Emotionally Intelligent?

Again, simply – everyone! If we go back to the definition above, can you see the benefit of perceiving your emotions, facilitating your thoughts using emotion, understanding your emotions, and managing your emotions, so you can be your authentic self? And as I have discovered, the more emotional intelligence we can have for ourselves, the more we can model and share it with others and grow empathy and compassion.


When Can We Be Emotionally Intelligent in Sport?

Mmm – think you may be getting the drift of this! Again – as much as possible. Emotional intelligence starts from when we get up in the morning to the moment when we go to sleep at night. Some specific examples include –

  • Failing to meet personal goals and expectations or making mistakes within sport,
  • Working through injuries and focusing on what to do to recover,
  • Managing a performance or training plateau,
  • Helping you reach your full potential and live your purpose,
  • Managing communication and developing relationships,
  • Persisting and concentrating on what you can do (not what you can’t),
  • Taking responsibility for difficult sporting experiences, and
  • Keeping a balanced perspective, managing stress and allowing yourself to move on.

From my own experience, this is a never-ending adventure and practising starts with self-awareness and turning within.


How Can I Be Emotionally Intelligent? –

I think it goes back to Tolle‘s explanation of presence. He says –

“To stay present in everyday life, it helps to be deeply rooted within yourself…. To always have some of your attention in the energy field of your body. To feel the body from within, so to speak. Body awareness keeps you present” (p. 94).


Over to You…

I hope this post has given you some insight in to Emotional Intelligence and whether it fits in sport. If you have any questions, please leave any questions or comments below.

Also – if you liked this article and want to keep taking the next step towards freedom and opening your heart to life beyond sportplease feel free to join the Life Beyond Elite Sport commUnity by clicking here.


References –

Mayer, J. D., & Salovey, P. (1997). What is emotional intelligence? In D. J. Sluyter (Ed.), Emotional development and emotional intelligence: Educational implications (pp. 3–34). New York, NY: Basic Books.

Mayer, J. D., Caruso, D. R., & Salovey, P. (2016). The ability model of emotional intelligence: Principles and updates. Emotion Review, 8 1-11.

Tolle, E. (1999). The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual EnlightenmentVancouver, Canada: Namaste Publishing.

Ready to Reconnect With All Areas of Your Life – Not Just Sport?

Ready to Reconnect With All Areas of Your Life – Not Just Sport?

Sport can be challenging, especially when your livelihood depends on your performances. However, as an athlete you are more than your sport and are a human being first. Subsequently, today I wanted to share with you a way to start to reconnect with all areas of your life beyond elite sport.


Identifying Your Areas of Life…

What are the areas that make up your life? Over time, I have created 12 areas that I focus on. They are 1. Career / Business, 2. Confidence / Emotional Awareness, 3. Giving / Contribution / Community, 4. Family / Friends, 5. Health / Body / Movement, 6. Intimate Relationship, 7. Leisure / Fun, 8. Money / Finances, 9. Personal Growth, 10. Self-Management, 11. Living Space / Physical Environment, and 12. Travel / Holidays.

What are your areas of life? Are they something similar or different? Either way, is all good as it is your life.


Developing Awareness

Now you have identified the areas of your life, you can develop some awareness on your satisfaction level with where you are in relation to each area of your life. You may even like to draw a wheel like the one below (however I have created a worksheet for you below).

If you like, you can use the rating scale – 1 represents not satisfied and 10 represents 100% satisfied and happy in that area. Then you can connect the dots like the example below.

Remember there are no right or wrong answers – this is a guide to develop awareness and find out where you are at in relation to your satisfaction levels for your life at the present time!


Next Step…

Once you have completed your Wheel of Life, you can then decide which area/s needs the most attention. Then if you choose to, you can take steps towards living in greater harmony and holistically for your whole-self.


How Will You Reconnect With All Areas of Your Life?

I hope this post has given you some guidance on how to start reconnecting with all areas of your life and start moving towards your dreams! Remember, tiny tweaks everyday will take you there 🙂

And remember you can download the worksheet here. Any questions, please write them below!


What is Wellbeing in Sport?

What is Wellbeing in Sport?

Before we have a look at wellbeing in sport, let’s have a look at what is wellbeing? Defining wellbeing is complex and an area that continues to evolve. Following are some surface definitions of wellbeing from a variety of sources:

Then, the following definitions go a little deeper in to what is wellbeing, including –

  • Subjective Well-Being (SWB) was defined by Deiner (2009) as the general evaluation of one’s quality of life. The concept has been conceptualized as the three components: (1) a cognitive appraisal that one’s life was good (life satisfaction); (2) experiencing positive levels of pleasant emotions; (3) experiencing relatively low levels of negative moods (Deiner, 2009).
  • “Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community” ~ World Health Organisation
  • “Well-being is more than just happiness. As well as feeling satisfied and happy, well-being means developing as a person, being fulfilled, and making a contribution to the community” ~ Shah and Marks (2004).
  • Headey and Wearing’s (1992) indicate that wellbeing is shown “as depending on prior equilibrium levels of wellbeing and of life events, and also on recent events.
  • Dodge et al (2012) – “as the balance point between an individual’s resource pool and the challenges faced”. This is shown in the following diagram – 


What is Wellbeing in Sport?

We know that sport can help cultivate wellbeing on many levels, including mentally, socially and physically. This can be done specifically by –

  • Mental well-being – i.e. focus, concentration,
  • Physical well-being – for example cardiovascular and respiratory functioning, and
  • Socially – develop relationships that can foster a sense of belonging.

However, sport can also impact these aspects of wellbeing through –

  • Mental well-being – excessive pressure, expectations and/or burnout,
  • Physical well-being – when ill, injured or overtraining, and
  • Socially – unsupportive practises (i.e. conflict, bullying etc.). 


Looking at Sport and Wellbeing Holistically

Basically every aspect of your life influences your wellbeing (which in turn can influence your sport). Researchers investigating happiness and wellbeing, have found the following factors can enhance an individuals wellbeing –

  • an enjoyable and fulfilling career,
  • adequate money,
  • regular exercise,
  • a balanced diet (food and water),
  • sufficient sleep,
  • an intimate relationship with a partner,
  • a network of close friends,
  • a sense of belonging,
  • the ability to adapt to change,
  • a safe physical environment (home and environment),
  • a sense of purpose and meaning, and remember
  • all of the above factors are interrelated.

Do you think those things are important? If so, how are you cultivating them in your life?


Over to You…

What Does Wellbeing Mean to You? How does it relate to your sport? Does it include your –

  • relationships (social),
  • emotions (emotional),
  • body (physical),
  • thoughts (mental),
  • finances (financial),
  • living environment (environmental),
  • spirit (spiritual)?

I would be interested to hear what wellbeing means to you, so feel free to comment below! When you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and living whole-heartedly (i.e. across sport and life)you are also welcome tjoin our newsletter here


References –

Diener, E. (2009). Subjective well-being. The Science of Well-Being, 11-58. Dodge, R., Daly, A., Huyton, J., & Sanders, L. (2012). The challenge of defining wellbeing. International Journal of Wellbeing2(3), 222-235. 

Headey, B. W., & Wearing, A. J. (1992). Understanding happiness: A theory of subjective well-being. Melbourne, Australia: Longman Cheshire. 

Shah, H., & Marks, N. (2004). A well-being manifesto for a flourishing society. London: The New Economics Foundation.


Website Page Reference –

Thanks in advance for honouring my work 🙂 The reference is as follows…

Taylor, J. (2022) What is Wellbeing? [WWW] Available from: https://janetaylor.org/what-is-wellbeing-in-sport/ [Accessed …….. ]


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