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Mental Health of the Elite Young Athlete

Dr Manroy Sahni & Dr Johnson Pok-Him Tam

Elite sport demands results. For each new generation of athletes, the bar is set higher. They strive to run further and to jump higher to surpass the achievements of their heroes. Elite sport is competitive. Young athletes at the pinnacle of their development groups are exposed to training regimes, specialised coaching and organised competition from ever earlier ages. Athletes from as young as under-13 age groups may be thrust into National and International competition1. These competitions often serve as “shop windows” for scouts and coaches to identify future stars, further piling pressure upon young athletes2. Evidently, young athletes can quickly find themselves within a cauldron of pressure and expectation. How does this impact upon their mental health and what can be done to help?

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