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Gus lifts lid on the unseen toll of professional sport
Rugby league icon Phil Gould has lifted the lid on the mental struggles professional athletes face that the public rarely hears about.
Gould has been a player, coach, and administrator at the elite level for more than four decades, and has dealt with hundreds of footballers during that time.
Speaking on Wide World of Sports’ Six Tackles With Gus podcast, he was asked about how an NRL coach learns to manage each player individually.
Gould explained how NRL supercoach Wayne Bennett manages the individual in the team, rather than treating all his troops equally.
He then pointed to golf’s newest Masters winner, Scottie Scheffler, to showcase how elite athletes can be falling apart on the inside but look completely calm on the outer.
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After his Masters victory, Scheffler revealed how he had a meltdown on the morning of the fourth round and “cried like a baby” to his wife.
“You would be staggered to know how many of them have insecurity,” Gould said.
“Look at the Masters… Scottie Scheffler admitted to breaking down and crying on the morning of the last round, because he didn’t believe he was up to this.
“People don’t realise it. People would never realise how many kids we’ve got in counselling, or how many kids we’ve got being treated for different things. The horrific backgrounds they have in their life, the lack of confidence and the insecurities they have.
“You need to learn to be able to treat them differently. And you make some mistakes along the way, too.
Scheffler’s admission after Masters victory
“That’s a part of what a coach has to be. It’s not just about the football.
“I think sometimes the football is actually just a small part of it. It’s the rest of it, helping people deal.
“A large number of our players fail for different reasons, or go through their career with insecurity, with anxiety.
“I’ve known some of the greatest players in the game to have huge anxiety issues.
“A lack of confidence, lack of self belief, lack of understanding.
“I had one player who had to win a Dally M award before he believed himself that he was a good player.”
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