YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — There is a new type of training for student-athletes at York College, but it doesn’t focus on the sport itself. Instead, it is about managing stress and anxiety.
“Taking the time to do something as silly as taking a deep breath can have a positive impact on you,” York College Junior Katie Martino said.
Martino is a junior at York College of Pennsylvania, taking a sport behavior class that teaches many on and off-the-field anxiety relief techniques for athletes.
Dr. Molly Sauder, Chair of the Department of Sports, Tourism, and Hospitality Management at York College of Pennsylvania teaches the class.
“I always say that the short of what we’re trying to do in the class is help students understand how can we bring out the best in people in the sporting environment,” Dr. Sauder said. “How do we create the best possible environments? How do we help our athletes to develop growth mindsets? Things like that.”
The way it is done is by partnering with a local sports club or organization.
“(To be able to) engage our college students here at York but also students in our youth lacrosse program,” Brandon Childs, Coach of the White Rose Lacrosse Club, said.
During the fall semester of 2022, the class partnered with the Lacrosse Club. Childs also coaches Lacrosse at York College.
“A lot of it was new for me. I was a sports management major years and years and years ago and now I’m a college lacrosse coach. I wish I had the opportunity to learn some of the things that kids are going through,” Childs said.
The student research the sport and by working with each other, they develop a strategy that will play out in real-time for parents, the athletes, and themselves to help them get through certain anxieties and pressures.
Sophomore Isabella Ewing also took the class. She focuses on the parents, while Martino worked with the eight to nine-year-old athletes.
“My group did a brochure, like a pamphlet and a video, and we linked it all together so parents could watch,” Ewing said.
“Getting real experience as you learn something, is the best way to make it stick with you,” Martino said.
Some of those experiences? Positive self-talk, reinforcement, and breathing exercises. On the parent side, however, Ewing said it was a little different,
“Thinking about my tone. If I ever become a parent how will I affect my kids? I don’t wanna be the one that their anxiety to get in the car with them after a game because they are afraid I’m gonna yell at them,” Ewing said.
The lesson didn’t just rub off on the kids, but it also rubbed off on the coach.
“The more you can address mental health, educate, and create safe spaces, the more likely it is you’re going to start to uncover some of the things you were assuming were never there,” Childs said.
What Dr. Sauder aims for every semester for the one sin evolved and her students is one thing.
“Really going above and beyond to make sure you’re learning from what you’re doing and also not forgetting about it when the class is over, Martino said.