In the realm of sports, where physical prowess often overshadows mental well-being, it's crucial to remember that athletes are humans first. They experience stress, anxiety, and emotional lows just like anyone else. Despite the efforts to raise awareness over the recent years and with so many college sports programs supporting it, the stigma surrounding mental health in sports often silences these young individuals. This is where XA Score steps in, offering a simple yet powerful tool: the Daily Check-in. Especially during Mental Health Awareness Week, the importance of such a tool cannot be overstated.
The Power of a Simple Question
"How are you feeling today?" This question, part of XA Score's Daily Check-in feature, has opened doors for countless conversations between coaches and athletes. As aptly put by SEC Student-Athlete Elle McCaslin, "XA Score is the easiest way for athletes to let their coaches know how they're doing without saying a word."
A Personal Connection to the Cause
When you're a coach, you're said to "mark athletes for life." Coaches in it for the right reason make a positive impact that carries a lifetime and has a compounding effect on the lives of all those the athlete touches.
As someone who has coached college football for 22 years and high school sports for an additional eight years, I understand the complexities of athlete well-being from a unique vantage point. My concern for this subject isn't just professional; it's deeply personal. I have three children who are student-athletes, and I've seen firsthand the pressures they face both on and off the field. This personal connection fuels my passion for ensuring that XA Score serves as a meaningful outlet for student-athletes, helping them and athletes just like them to navigate the challenges of mental health. It was this dual perspective, as both a coach and a parent, that led to the creation of XA Score.
Breaking Down Barriers
The Daily Check-in is more than just a feature; it's a lifeline. It takes less than 10 seconds to complete but has the power to initiate life-altering discussions. The mechanism is discreet, making it easier for student-athletes to be honest about their mental state. When a coach sees an athlete submit a low "Feeling" report, it serves as a cue to initiate a conversation. Coaches don't need to have all the answers; they just need to know to ask the question.
Real Stories, Real Impact
While respecting individual privacy, we can share that the Daily Check-in has led to a wide range of interventions, from small adjustments to professional help. Such was the case with Youngstown State Football right away when they onboarded XA Score. These are not just numbers; they are lives being positively impacted. For instance, Youngstown State Football experienced significant improvements in athlete engagement and health right from their onboarding with XA Score. We can't quantify the conversations had, but we're quite sure we've kept at least one story out of the news.
Technology Creating Conversations
In a world increasingly driven by technology, XA Score uses it to foster human connections. Countless conversations have been had between coaches and players, building rapport, developing connections, and earning trust. These are the ways you strengthen your program’s culture. By facilitating these crucial conversations, XA Score not only enhances the mental well-being of student-athletes but also fortifies the very foundation of sports programs, creating an environment where everyone can thrive. XA Score aims to be a constant in the lives of student-athletes, offering them a daily touchpoint for their mental well-being.
The Coaches' Perspective
Often, coaches think they can read an athlete's body language, but many athletes cover their issues. They show up determined to work hard and not show weakness, often battling these issues in silence, like Tyler Hilinski did. Listen to Coach Gildersleeve, Director of Football Sports Performance for KU Football, discuss this very thing: “I Didn’t Know What I Was Missing”.
XA Score was developed by coaches, for coaches, and as an outlet for student-athletes. As we continue to break down the stigmas surrounding mental health, this simple feature stands as a testament to what can be achieved through thoughtful technology. Our mission is to redefine victories, not just on the field but in shaping lives. As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, we encourage coaches and athletes to take the first step in prioritizing mental health by trying out XA Score's Daily Check-in.
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