A heathy mind in elite sport

The Issues

David Paul Lloyd is the founder and central guru at LCS. He strongly believes in the value and practice of holistic mental health for all. That EVERYONE can attain their full potential regardless of their starting point.

David is a fully qualified therapist and counselor with qualifications, certificates and awards of excellence to his name however and more importantly, his passion for helping people recognise their true potential and choosing programs and treatment tailored to the individual’s needs form the foundation of his service offering.

Accredited in Psychotherapeutic Counselling, a certified Neuro-Linguistic practitioner, over 20 years as an international sports coach, an experienced corporate leader with a record of outstanding achievements, well-versed in maximising business performance, motivating others and championing team work – make him a person of choice

Struggling in silence

Sportspeople who have revealed their own battles with mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and self-harm, have encouraged others to go public with their own experiences; however, the number who struggle in silence is unknown. Athletes who are still playing and competing have expressed concern about the impact revealing or asking for support for a mental health problem can have on their career showing there is clearly still a stigma attached to mental health.

Asking for help for anything other than sports-related goals may initially be outside the comfort zone of many athletes, especially those performing at higher levels. “There’s a stigma about seeking counseling — ‘Oh, I’m a high-profile athlete; I don’t need counseling’ — especially for men,”


The question of confidentiality often comes up in sports counseling, especially in situations when the counselor directly or indirectly works for the organisation that sponsors the athlete or his team. Emphasizing the privacy of the counseling experience to athletes is key.

We adhere to ethical codes regarding client confidentiality, An athlete talking to us/me doesn’t mean I’ll tell their coach, but that’s always a concern, they may regard the idea of unburdening themselves to a counselor as frivolous or weak. Sports counselors must find ways to overcome such hurdles and help athletes to feel strong about their choice to seek counseling.

Some Key Issues

Some of the key issues a sports person will have to come to terms with as well as maintaining their high physical standards are:

the threat of leaving

will I get to the next stage?

will I be dropped?

will I get a contract or be released?

what happens if I get injured?

how will I cope when I’m injured

what will I do if I have to move my family

how do I build trusting relationships

what happens when I retire?


The exit route of young athletes was a key area of concern across team and individual sports alike. Of the players connected to football academies aged 16, the majority will no longer be playing as a professional aged 21. A bad performance by an individual athlete may mean suddenly being dropped altogether and a withdrawal of funding.

Coming to terms with life outside of sport can be particularly challenging, as can moving forward to compete as an adult professional with the increased profile and pressure this brings.

In many instances sports people have not had the opportunity to develop the skills needed for the outside world. life skills sessions that include character, leadership, financial literacy, post-experience career and relationship management


Approaching retirement is a particularly challenging time for most sportspeople, who have spent their entire lives being defined as athletes.Your self-esteem is shot down; you don’t know who you are as you’ve spent all your life pleasing others: managers, coaches, fans – you’re by yourself, no-one wants a photo or autograph anymore.

Retirement can be such a traumatic and confusing time for athletes. That’s true both for star athletes who must deal with a steep drop in income and attention, and for amateur athletes who are losing an activity that provided them with a significant measure of personal pleasure and identity.

Once your career is over most if not all athelts go through a bereavement process for the loss of a part of themselves and what they spent a lot of their time doing. It is a major transition for the athlete to handle, sports counselors can help these individuals envision the next phase of their lives and find new ways to use the skills they learned on the field or on the court.

During their playing days, athletes make use of important traits such as creativity, the ability to react to change, perseverance, resilience and team-oriented thinking. Sports counselors can point out to athletes that these characteristics are also huge assets in postsports careers and interpersonal relationships. Channeling an athlete’s passion into a new pursuit can help the transition to a new phase of life in a positive way.

Key Points

It is important that coaches and managers understand the value of mental health and wellbeing, and be engaged in support of athletes, for change to happen at a club level.

Individual clubs have a responsibility as employers to proactively support the mental health and wellbeing of players and support staff, mitigating the impact of the changeable and uncertain characteristics of this unique working environment.

thletes experience the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat and everything else that comes between the highs and lows of competition. Sometimes, though, they need help managing the accompanying feelings, Unlike sports psychology, which focuses primarily on game-time performance, sports counselors take a more holistic approach by also paying attention to the mental well-being and pyschoemotional needs of athletes.



Key Points



“I’ve grown up in my sport with the impression I was meant to be a superhero. You’re supposed to be able to handle things. You are in high pressure situations so you are convinced you should be able to handle those situations yourself, so it is hard to get help, it is admitting you have a weakness.”

Natasha Danvers, athlete

“Mental health is not a very easy thing to talk about in sports. It’s not perceived as very masculine. We’re so trained to be “mentally tough,” in sports. To show weakness, we’re told, in so many words, is to deserve shame. But I am here to show weakness. And I am not ashamed.”

Mardy Fish, USA, tennis player, on anxiety

“In sports there’s a lot of people out there suffering and they don’t even know it. That’s because they can’t identify with mental illness. These people just feel like they’re just having a bad day or that it’s just weakness. So, any resources available to them will never be used.”

New York Jets receiver Brandon Marshall’s

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