April 25, 2024


Exercise makes us healthy

Naomi Osaka is raising awareness of mental health issues in professional sports

Naomi Osaka’s latest selection to withdraw from the French Open relatively than speak with the press is surprising. Osaka acquired far more than $55 million final calendar year. For her, the $15,000 great that the French Open up imposed for failing to speak with the push is almost pocket improve. It is not surprising that Osaka could find the money for to skip the press convention — what is shocking is that a tennis superstar athlete has not opted out of press conferences for mental wellness factors prior to.

Osaka’s steps have assisted us to just take a hard appear at the media engagement with and activities of specialist athletes. Serena Williams says that she is thick-skinned and hence is significantly less affected by dealing with the press than others, while she acknowledges not each individual player can cope in the way that she does. Tennis winner Billie Jean King famously said that “pressure is a privilege,” boldly embracing the strain, though also highlighting the stress she seasoned.

It is quick to have an understanding of why experienced tennis players with mental wellness problems be reluctant to look for support when you contemplate what occurred to Osaka. Right after Osaka indicated that she would not be taking part in French Open up push conferences because of to her psychological health fears, she was fined and publicly rebuked.

In addition, the French Open up Twitter feed posted a photograph of other tennis gamers talking to the press along with the snarky comment: “They understood the assignment.” Relatively than shaming a having difficulties champion, perhaps it is time to far better prepare and assist players so that they can efficiently comprehensive the “assignment.”

In 2018, the NBA Gamers Affiliation (NBPA) took on mental well being troubles in their league, using the services of sport psychologist Dr. William D. Parham to acquire a mental wellbeing and wellness software for their professional basketball users. Parham and his personnel give academic programming targeted on mental health and fitness and wellness, resources this sort of as a psychological wellbeing hotline and a community of licensed psychological wellness professionals in just about every town that hosts an NBA group for gamers to communicate with.

This extensive psychological wellness and wellness strategy follows the improvement, support and counseling tenets of Life Improvement Intervention models.

Improvement applications

Enhancement tactics establish on athletes’ personalized strengths and techniques to help them prepare for long term encounters. An enhancement system for experienced tennis players might include talking about the challenges related with functioning with the media, training the capabilities essential for community talking and press interactions and implementing the media interaction competencies. Practicing and applying techniques builds self-confidence, will increase a sense of management and self-efficacy, and lowers worry. Social guidance also lessens the impact of worry and aids men and women to mobilize coping resources. 


Assist interventions in specialist tennis could include enabling gamers to have their coaches present at press conferences and/or enabling players to sign up for push conferences remotely by way of Zoom or other systems from environments wherever they sense harmless and supported.


Ultimately, counseling can be provided to support athletes to cope with personalized difficulties and mature via lifestyle transitions. From a Lifestyle Improvement Intervention perspective, numerous of the complications that athletes facial area, which includes compound abuse, feeding on ailments, and suicide makes an attempt, replicate endeavours to cope with transitions that then develop into the problem, independent of the primary situation. When enhancement, guidance, and counseling are readily available, quite a few challenges can be prevented and/or addressed just before they grow to be psychological health crises.

By refusing to communicate with the push at the 2021 French Open up, Naomi Osaka lifted consciousness of mental wellbeing difficulties in specialist activity and of precise concerns associated to push conferences. She has given us a window into a method in will need of an enhance. Let’s use this surprising instant as an prospect to guidance athletes and provide them with the instruments they require to be productive in a fashion that is respectful of their dignity, privateness and rights.

Judy L. Van Raalte, Ph.D., CMPC has coached tennis at the NCAA Division II and Division III degrees. She is professor of psychology and distinguished professor of humanics at Springfield University, visiting scholar at Wuhan Sports activities College in Wuhan, China and is listed in the United States Olympic Committee Sport Psychology Registry.