May 26, 2024

Leading up to the College Football Playoff National Championship clash against the Washington Huskies, the Michigan Wolverines’ players and coaches have openly emphasized the significance of mental health, shedding light on their preparation, enthusiasm, and coping mechanisms.

Amid the considerable time invested in the weight room, practice facilities, film sessions, press conferences, and 13 games played this season, the mental well-being of the athletes often goes unnoticed. Despite Michigan’s success, some players are experiencing a challenging year. While running back Blake Corum set a record for touchdowns this season, Donovan Edwards faced setbacks compared to the previous season.

Michigan Wolverines Football - Donovan Edwards RB-1 - Maize n Brew

 

Edwards, a former five-star player, showcased his talent in 2022 but experienced a less productive year. His yards per carry dropped from 7.1 to 3.5, rushing yards decreased from 991 to 393, and rushing touchdowns declined from seven to three. Despite his expectations, Edwards is taking steps to remain mentally prepared alongside physical training.

Expressing his perspective, Edwards stated, “I feel like this year has been a lot more of a mental aspect for me.” Acknowledging the ups and downs in life, he emphasizes the importance of rising to the occasion and dealing with frustration. Edwards has sought assistance from a therapist to maintain a focused mindset, viewing the year as a blessing beyond football.

Several players echo Edwards’ sentiments, underscoring the importance of having fun amidst pressure, training the mind for the demanding season, and supporting each other within the team. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy credits coach Harbaugh for making the schedule manageable, contributing to a positive mental health environment.

Enjoying victories and embracing the joy of the game is emphasized as a crucial aspect of keeping players in a positive mental state. Sherrone Moore highlights the team’s happiness and excitement about reaching the championship, emphasizing positive psychology as a vital, often overlooked, element of mental health in sports.

In addition to positivity, Wolverines stress the significance of mental preparation from the beginning of training camp, focusing on repetition, balancing rest and exertion on the body, and relying on teammates for support. Kris Jenkins acknowledges the coaching staff’s role in training and instilling a mindset that perseveres through challenges.

Michigan’s approach to mental health aligns with a broader trend in collegiate sports, recognizing mental well-being as integral to athletic performance. Teams now provide comprehensive support systems, including access to mental health professionals and an environment that encourages open discussions about mental health.

The players’ experiences underscore the importance of joy, resilience, balance, and professional support in fostering a healthy mental state. This shift not only enhances athletes’ performance but also contributes to their overall well-being, extending beyond their collegiate sports careers.

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