Tips for Helping Students Recovering from Traumatic Events
September 2005

Tips for Coaches

Coaches hold an influential position in the lives of the nation's youths. For some students, sports can offer the opportunity to connect with others, to succeed in activities that require athletic skills and concentration, to temporarily escape disaster-related problems and to find a sense of normalcy.

  • Coaches should consider ways for displaced students to play on sports teams. If fall teams are already formed, they may want to encourage new students to participate in intramural teams or to try out for winter sports. Coaches may want to consider creating new intramural teams, if necessary, and perhaps encourage players on competitive teams to serve as mentors, assistant coaches or referees for intramural leagues.

  • Students often look up to coaches as role models. School leaders can identify ways for coaches to help new students feel welcome and promote their acceptance by other students in school.

  • The role of a coach and the context of athletics are ideal for building trust between students and adults. This can be particularly important for displaced students who may feel vulnerable. Coaches should let new students know that they are there to help them and are willing to listen if they would like to talk.

  • Coaches should be observant of new students' behaviors, as they may be able to identify signs of serious distress; if they do, then coaches should seek help for the student from administrators or school counselors.

  • The school may want to offer informal pickup games after school. Members of the community can help with this effort.

  • School leaders can support informal mentoring opportunities related to sports to connect youths with adults in the community.

  • Coaches can encourage their players to help welcome new students.

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Last Modified: 11/06/2012