Why it's important to provide support for those just starting out in pro sports

As England played their first Euro 2024 match yesterday, we take a look at the impact adapting to a national team and representing their country for the first time can have on players and why its particularly important to support their mental wellbeing. 

Whilst it can be the highest honour as a professional athlete, young players, or 'first timers' can have more to adapt to. Not only do they have to adapt in the early years of their careers naturally, like when being signed onto their first club and professional team, there’s more pressure on national team stages. For starters, they go from representing their local teams, to representing their country. The stage and stakes have grown significantly and that can be hard to manage when players are young or experiencing it for the first time.

How can UKIM Occupational Health & Wellbeing help?

At UKIM we have a full in-house clinical team with psychologists and counsellors that are able to offer Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and counselling sessions so that young players, or any player for that matter, can receive the support they need to feel confident, strong, and to perform at exceptional levels off and on the pitch. With our Wellbeing in Sport package, players also have 24/7 access to our EAP so that they can have help at any time, because we know that mental health worries can strike unexpectedly.

When it comes to dealing with a much bigger stage and more pressure, having access to talking therapies can help ease any struggles and help find solutions. For instance, through CBT and counselling, players will learn coping techniques that can help them forever, and especially during competition times when feelings of stress and anxiety may be worse.  With specific transition support, younger players will find it easier to adjust to public exposure and being in the spotlight - it's all eyes on them during the Euros.

In any football competition, players are subject to heavy criticism and hate, especially online. It’s crucial that players don’t experience this on their own and we’re here to help them navigate the tricky world of social media and trolls. Young players are new to this whirlwind, so it’s best to have support from the get-go and not be thrown in the deep-end as that can be very damaging.