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Sports counseling addresses the emotional and mental health needs of an athlete. If there are  sports performance issues, a sports counselor can look for the cause. The sports counselor’s  job is to help teach the client how to address mental health concerns and related impacts such  as stress, anxiety, overcoming fear of failure, expectations that come from success, and  burnout. Sports counselors also address such issues as family, stress management, and coping skills.


Many times athletes feel isolated because they do not know if they should get help or may think  “I am the only one who needs help.” This belief can be a big barrier which prevents athletes  from seeking out to a mental health counselor—and many truly need these services. Athletes  from all sports disciplines deal with various mental health issues. Some of these include the  following…

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Suicidal Thoughts

  • Panic Attacks

  • Post-concussion Issues

  • Eating Disorders

  • Sports Blocks

  • Struggles with Coaches

  • Anger

  • Injuries

  • Retirement from Sports

  • Identity in Sports

  • Perfectionism

Counseling sessions address these issues and help to provide support. They are confidential,  and the therapeutic relationship remains between the counselor and the athlete. There is no  ‘back channel’ to a coach, performance trainer, family member, etc. Sports counselors will help  athletes to learn and feel that they are not alone in their mental health journey. One way to  break the stigma within the sports community and mental health is for athletes to ‘tell their story'  to other athletes. These conversations are usually met with compassion and thankfulness.

Common Mental Health Issues:


Symptoms (5 or more):

  • Feeling down, empty or sad

  • Little interest or pleasure in almost all activities

  • Significant weight loss or gain

  • Sleeping too much or too little

  • Having decreased energy

  • Eating too much or too little

  • Trouble concentrating on things

  • Having thoughts that you might be better off dead

Symptoms are present for 2 weeks (or more)


Symptoms (4 or more):

  • Feeling like you cannot breathe adequately

  • Having a pounding heart

  • Chest pains

  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded

  • Feeling like you are going to lose control

  • Generally feeling like you are about to die

Symptoms need to be present for 1 month (or more)

ANXIETY (generalized anxiety disorder):

Symptoms (3 or more):

  • Feeling nervous or on edge

  • Being unable to stop worrying

  • Trouble concentrating on things

  • Getting easily annoyed

  • Sleep disturbances

Excessive anxiety/worry (occurring more days than not) at a number of events

or activities 6 months (or more).  Difficult to control the worry.

**This information was developed and shared by Rocky Mountain Sports Counseling Center. This info is to assist players in recognizing when it may be time to seek additional mental health support. It is not safe to assume any diagnosis on your own and we recommend consulting with a mental health professional to determine what is best for you.