Mind Over Sports

University of Georgia’s Coach Suzanne Yoculan’s Mental Gymnastics

Posted on: April 25, 2008

yoculan2If every coach in America followed the example set by Georgia’s women’s gymnastic coach Suzanne Yoculan, they would almost always be assured of having a winning season.

According to an article in USA TODAY (April 24, 2008) Coach Yoculan “has team meetings every Monday to discuss chemistry and avoid division. She tells her athletes they can’t date ex-boyfriends of teammates and wears a T-shirt that says, ‘Save your Drama for your Mama.’ Yoculan, 54, used to throw her athletes out of the gym for emotional impact. Now she sits down and has individual counseling sessions with them.” As I’ve always maintained, team meetings and individual counseling sessions are very valuable to the chemistry of a team since they provide a forum for athletes to discuss what’s on their minds rather than just keeping their feelings inside themselves, which is a form of lying that demeans them and lowers their self-esteem, creating psychological baggage that affects their ability to focus. And when athletes know their coaches care about them as human beings first and then as athletic performers, they’ll play their hearts out for them. And in the words of All-American Katie Heenan, one of Coach Yoculan’s four seniors hoping to lead Georgia to its fourth consecutive title: “She loves us.”

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