Lessons on Wellbeing from Professional Sporting Coaches Hayden Fricke May 25, 2023

Lessons on Wellbeing from Professional Sporting Coaches

If you are from Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane or simply a keen follower of the Australian Football League, you will be well aware that in the last week, 2 of the most well well-known football coaches (Alastair Clarkson and Damien Hardwick) have resigned or stepped away from coaching. In addition, the CEO of Hawthorn Football Club, Justin Reeves, has resigned.  

These 3 cases within the last week have been high profile in the media across Australia. They have one thing in common…mental health and wellbeing. The ex-Richmond coach Damien Hardwick, has explained to the media that he has retired due to burnout and stress involved as being a senior AFL coach.  The North Melbourne coach, Alastair Clarkson has stepped away from his role to focus on his physical and emotional wellbeing. Justin Reeves has today given his reasoning as being related to mental health and wellbeing. You don’t have to follow the AFL to understand this. Senior coaches from any prominent professional sports across the globe face such challenges. Those who have watched the famous ‘Ted Lasso’ television series might have some glimpses into this through the world of professional football (or soccer as we called it here in Australia). What fascinates me about this is not that it is happening now, but rather that the real reasons for people stepping away from challenging roles is being given and that it is now OK and acceptable in our society to talk about burnout, stress and emotional wellbeing. In fact, it is good to talk about it and high profile cases like this should help us all to shine a light on this for all people. At Steople, we have been working across the globe to help leaders create thriving and flourishing workplace for over 13 years and it is only more recently that organisations have truly embraced these concepts in more than tokenistic ways. The global pandemic has helped us to highlight this problem; a challenge that I believe always existed but was often not spoken about, or at least not publicly.

Now that we have lifted the vail of silence on this important topic, we can all learn to understand the factors that contribute to and/or directly cause poor mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. As we understand these factors better, we can begin to change our habits in small but important ways to enhance our own wellbeing and to create more meaningful and fulfilling lives. Then we will also be in a position to help others with their wellbeing. The analogy I often use is like the airplane announcements to “first put on your own mask, and then help others”. Leaders in organisations need to learn to follow this approach and find ways to change their own wellbeing habits so they can help others and ultimately to create a thriving and flourishing work culture.

If you would like to find out more about how to do this, please reach out to Steople in your location across the US, New Zealand or Australia.