A Basketball Tournament that made me reflect on Sports and Mental Health


What a huge hiatus with my writing. Sometimes I find it difficult to balance a full time job, ensuring you are personally well (Self-Care), and other obligations.

Anyways, here we are and I am really excited to be writing on this topic. A week ago, myself and a great school team hosted a friendship game tournament that would allow another community to come and play basketball for the weekend. Along with sports, we incorporated wellness topics. One topic we wanted to put in there was sports and mental health.

It s a forgotten area of mental health that seems to be forgotten. Believing athletes are trained to always maintain mental composure and endurance. Not true.

We have seen many athletes who are now opening to having and coping with their mental health on social media; such as, NBA players, football players, and olympic athletes. Some like Clara Hughes advocate for mental health through Bell Lets Talk because of her own personal journey that involved her struggles and resiliency.

However, I would like to argue that this form of prevention should be taught in young people. There is this idea that when young people play sports, they are playing for fun. Although, there are cases of that, there are young people that put a lot of pressure on themselves to perform.

We call this performance anxiety.

Going back to the tournament, as a coach for the girls basketball team, I sat with all my girls various times to discuss and talk about the emotions that may appear during the tournament. I posed some questions to them:

  1. What happens if we lose?
  2. Is there such a thing as being scared on the court?
  3. What should we do if we feel these uncomfortable emotions on game day?

At the end of the conversation I validated any emotions that they might be feeling during the weekend.

It was a great reminder for me as a coach and a mental health worker that in moments of competition, we cannot assume a young person will be ready to perform. We cannot assume they have their sh*t together and will ignore all their emotions for a couple of games.

As a said in my workshop, the beginning steps of mental health is this- having a conversation.

Thanks for reading,


Basketball Tournament


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