De La Salle students and sports stars bounce back

Year 9 students De La Salle Catholic College Revesby Heights learned more ways to bounce back when sports stars visited the school as part of wellbeing pilot project The Boomerang Effect.

Mind coach to elite athletes and the Canterbury Bulldogs’ psychologist  John Novak visited the school on Wednesday, December 9 with NRL player Josh Reynolds, mixed martial artist and big wave surfer Richie ‘Vas’ Vaculik, and motocross rider Luke McNeil.

Mathew Leslie and Nelson Carey, both 15, were among the students who listened as all of the guests spoke about how they deal with pressure and adversity.

“It was really to inspire us to use positivity throughout our everyday lives and how to cope with negative thoughts and challenges that cross our paths,” Matthew said.

“One of the examples the motocross rider gave us was that he lost a mate to a motorcycle accident and it was very tough for him. He told us how he was able to cope and get back up.”

Nelson said of all the strategies the ‘rah’ moment appealed.

“What really stuck out in the presentation was the techniques used to help us bounce back and really grow it [resilience] from a space that’s innate,” he said.

“All of us every day go through challenges no matter how big or how small that we have to get through.  Instead of letting that anger and frustration build to breaking point, where you get into trouble at school or with mate, or to the point where you stuff up, you just let it out on the spot.”

“Because John Novak was their psychologist they [the sports players] all shared the same strategies of how they were able to cope.  They also said that whenever they’re up against the odds they just make themselves support each other.

“They might have a disappointing moment and they’ll call it a ‘rah’ moment, where they just let the anger out in a big yell and get back to the task. It just helps them get rid of all the negativity and focus on the positivity.”

Matthew said other strategies included the boomerang effect itself – ‘You get out what you put in’. The positive daily challenge and best choice were among ones they had learnt so far.

Best choice involved determining whether a decision would ultimately help or hinder the individual, while the positive daily challenge meant behaving in a way that would promote positivity and resilience.

“You use your words, actions and thoughts every day in every way 24-7 to stay positive,” Matthew said. “We can use it in close circles and friendships, at home, in sport, in school, with our family socially with our mates – all aspects of life really.”

Principal Tim Logue said one lesson per week was currently allocated to the project for students in Years 7 and 9, with the positive psychology-based content linked to the Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) curriculum. There are plans to grow the program so it is offered across all grades.

“It builds up resilience in the boys,” Mr Logue said.

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