Column: Checking on your mental health is important in times like these — and the Wizards know it

Column: Checking on your mental health is important in times like these — and the Wizards know it

On the court, NBA players can do what most people cannot, but when they are not making winning shots or perfect passes, they are dealing with the same emotions and stresses as everybody else. Being a professional athlete who makes a lot of money is not insulation from dealing with mental health. The NBA understands this and because of that, every team is required to have mental health professionals, just like they have coaches and athletic trainers, on their staffs to make sure players are strengthening their minds along with their bodies. Jim Soda is the mental skills coach for the Washington Wizards, and part of his job is to help players to be mentally ready to succeed in games. By helping players with mental tools like focus, imagery, and visualization, Soda’s goal is to improve the performance of players on the court. But Soda’s interaction with players often leads to other areas of their lives beyond basketball. “Ideally through the course of the year it is us having conversations about performance on the court and maybe how that translates a little bit off the court from the day-to-day standpoint,” Soda said. “But if something more significant happens, they know that somebody is there to help direct it and make sure it doesn’t get bigger than it is.” There are no games right now. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA has been shut down since March 12, and the Wizards players have been working hard to stay in physical shape while ...
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