Under the spotlight during the Winter Olympics, the struggles of superstar skier Mikaela Shiffrin brought back memories of gymnast Simone Biles at last year's Summer Olympics. Biles entered the Games as a gold-medal favorite and ended up withdrawing from multiple events in large part due to her mental health struggles, thereby highlighting the human side of athletes under the crushing pressure of expectations.
When Mikaela crashed out of two races, the outpouring of support was a sight to behold, especially the empathy shown by former skiing superstar Lindsay Vonn and Shiffrin’s boyfriend, Aleks Kilde, a Norwegian Olympic Medalist in his own right. "This is really heartbreaking to see, but she’s so talented, has had such a storied career, and this does not define her career in any way," Olympic Gold Medalist Lindsay Vonn shared on Shiffrin. "The more empathy we can have for each other in those moments, the better," she added.
"Most of you probably look at it saying, 'She has lost it', she can’t handle the pressure or ‘what happened?’… which makes me frustrated, because all I see is a top athlete doing what a top athlete does! It’s a part of the game and it happens,” Kilde shared. “The pressure we all put on individuals in sports is enormous, so let’s give the same amount of support back. It’s all about balance and we are just normal human beings!"
The sentiments shared by both Vonn and Kilde point to one very important element in the world of sports and beyond: empathy. As fans, athletes, parents, teammates, competitors, and especially coaches, the value of empathy cannot be underestimated- both for athletic performance but also as human beings. So as we watch this Winter Olympics, we’d like to share 10 Tips for Coaching with More Empathy. It is only with empathy that Shiffrin could, in her own words, “Be the girl that failed, but could also fly.” Coaches, let’s learn from this moment and coach our athletes with empathy at the forefront.
This piece was created in collaboration
between Coaching Corps & PCA