Revealed: Kris Letang’s Mental Struggles in the Season
Kris Letang opens up about his struggles
The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang recently revealed his mental struggles during the NHL season, overwhelming his performance both on and off the ice. The celebrated athlete shared his experience in an in-depth interview with Josh Yohe of The Athletic. Despite having a remarkable record with the Penguins, Letang narrated how he battled depression and anxiety, which he said primarily affected his decision-making throughout the season.
The struggles on the ice
Although the NHL is always quick to spot physical injuries, mental health battles may take longer to reveal themselves. In Letang’s case, he had his first bout with depression and anxiety back in 2019, leading him to miss some games. Since then, the Penguins coach and general manager, Mike Sullivan, suggested giving the defenseman some days off to alleviate his mental health’s toll. However, the latter declined the offer since he believed it would negatively impact his efficiency.
Letang’s struggles adversely affected his game, and he admitted to making hasty and wrong decisions. He said he was consumed with the fear of not performing well, leading him to overthink and negatively impacting his game.
Dealing with mental health
Letang confessed that he often ignored his battle with anxiety and depression, repeatedly dismissing its existence, instead of seeking help. However, in the interview, he revealed that he had started working with a sports psychologist this year to help him address the issues head-on. The Penguins also opened a mental health program for its players amid the COVID-19 pandemic, showing the management’s commitment to support their players’ overall well-being.
Battling Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are among the most common mental health conditions affecting athletes, as they face intense pressure to succeed in highly competitive environments. Athletes typically train almost every day, with practice schedules interrupted by games, travel, and public appearances. Additionally, injuries and recovery can further affect an athlete’s mental posture. Therefore, Letang’s young and old athletes alike can relate to and learn from his story of strength and vulnerability.
Kris Letang’s candid interview with Josh Yohe provided insight into the mental challenges that notable athletes experience throughout their careers. Dealing with anxiety and depression is not something that only affects non-athletes. In fact, overthinking and fear impact an athlete’s performance, regardless of how accomplished they are. It is essential for athletes to acknowledge their mental health struggles, seek help, and find a support group to handle the pressure of competition.
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