Coaching college basketball can be a grind. Between the season, recruiting,  and off-season preparation, it can feel like a 24-7, 365-day-a-year job. With the growing focus on mental health in sports and society at large, many coaches across the country have implemented strategies to help them avoid burnout so they can stay at the top of their game throughout the season. 

Keys to Good Mental Health on and off the Court 

Northwestern works with its players to implement mental health awareness. Women’s Basketball Coach Joe McKeown says, “I think Northwestern has been on the forefront of mental health initiatives not just with our athletic department but with our student body.” 

These initiatives include a lot of key elements. The most important factor is awareness and the ability to know when you need a break. 

“To me the number one issue in college athletics – everybody talks about portals and NILs – but mental health issues that our student-athletes are challenged with are real,” says Coach McKeown. “You have to be able to support them. I think we [Northwestern] do a good job but you know it’s an ongoing process.”

As quickly as players and students get burnt out, so do coaches. Penn State’s Women’s Head Coach, Carolyn Kieger, says she had to change her ways during this off-season to recharge herself.

“I’m implementing getting my workouts in every day,” says Coach Kieger. “I’m a much better person, I’m a much better coach when I get my workouts in and I know that about myself.”

Knowing when to be able to disconnect yourself from the world can be as difficult as it is easy. Coach Coquese Washington says having that balance in all aspects of your life is crucial, so you don’t get burned out as quickly. The head women’s basketball coach at Rutgers says, “I have some me time every day.” 

Finding the balance of peace might be just what these coaches need to get themselves back together. “You know it might only be 15 minutes, it might be 30 minutes but a little me time to read or to think –  just being quiet with myself and my thoughts,” said Coach Washington. “That’s how I personally recharge.”

Behind every great team is a great coach. These coaches try to be the best for their players, schools, and fans. Just like everyone else, they are human. Regardless of your career, learn to understand yourself. No matter what you do to find that balance, your mental health is just as important as your physical health.