Crean: Coaches have to guide players through "mental challenges" of 2020

From COVID-19 to social media, student-athletes must overcome various challenges during their college journey

Reiter Than You
October 06, 2020 - 4:21 pm
Tom Crean Indiana

USA Today Images


Social media can be a tough place, especially for athletes. Especially for student-athletes, who are often bombarded with praise and criticism from strangers online. 

COVID-19 has only amplified that problem, as many student-athletes may not be in a rhythm these days – and not just on the court or field.

“The majority of people, when they’re away from a college campus, when they’re away from their team for as long as people were, they got out of a routine; they built a new routine,” Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean said on Reiter Than You. “Now you come back in, you got to be concerned about the mental challenges people go through all the time. You got to be driven to build real confidence in people. You got to be driven to build guys that understand the value of being a teammate, and the value of being a teammate is not just delivering the ball on time and on target where somebody can shoot the ball, or not just calling out a screen or not just being in help defense. 

“Being a real teammate means looking to help somebody when they’re struggling, reminding somebody that what’s being said positively or negatively on social media shouldn’t have anything to do with how they see themselves when they play. That’s easier said than done, but that’s what being a family is all about.”

Being a family, Crean says, goes beyond wearing the same uniform and taking a team photo.

“Family is when you are willing to go above and beyond what’s comfortable for you to help somebody out and to help somebody get back on track,” Crean said. “I think that’s what you have to be concerned about all the time. . . . You’ve got to stay on the same path constantly with how you help your players, and eventually you get them to build more of a self-confidence that they’re not driven by [what they see on social media]."