It is in the best interests of every sports team to make sure their players are in good physical health, but the awareness to mental health continues to be on the rise. The New York Mets may be driving fans up the wall on a regular basis, but they are also looking to invest in the protecting the mental health of their own players in a way that could catch on throughout the league and beyond.
Gone are the days when teams simply look for mentally tough players who can adjust to any conditions without hesitation. As knowledge about sports psychology expands, how that is addressed has evolved. The Mets have developed a system that reaches down to the bottom of the farm system and extends up to the major league franchise that focuses on the mental health of players. A total of eight staff members can be found working with the Mets at all levels, and their roles are seen in the same light as a bench coach.
“We have a position coach at every affiliate. We have a pitching coach at every affiliate, a hitting coach, Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said to Bloomberg. “So why wouldn’t we have somebody who’s helping the players with the mental side of the game?”
This goes beyond just giving players a day or two off to get their heads on straight when things are not going well at the plate, in the field, or on the mound. Players have access to sit down and get things out with a professionally trained psychologist, but only if they choose to do so. An issue that is sometimes experienced is a distrust between a player and a doctor, with the fear the doctor may reveal some information to the team. But if a trusted relationship can be established, then there could be plenty of positive benefits from sorting through issues in this way rather than a few extra swings in the batting cage and time spent reviewing film (although those certainly help too).
The Mets are not alone in their line of thinking regarding mental health on the roster. The Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs, and Boston Red Sox have all taken steps to focus on this aspect of the game.