Best selling author Karen Clarke believes if sporting bodies like the NRL are to have any chance of really helping young athletes, mentors need to be involved to help players develop emotionally.
Speaking at Gympie's latest Men Of League function, Clarke, who penned the widely read coaching tool From Bullied To Brilliant, said a challenge young players face is the lack of coping mechanisms to help them navigate through the murky waters of professional sport.
"They (young athletes) can find themselves in an environment where they don't really need them (coping mechanisms),” she said.
"They are not being asked to be compassionate or thoughtful, kind or generous.
"They are being fed too much too young and that is their biggest challenge,” She said.
Clarke's literary work focuses on helping everyday people, including victims of bullying, understand how a change in thinking can end the bully-victim cycle.
Her theories can be applied to many groups of people, including athletes.
"The best example I can think of is with tennis players,” Clarke said.
"The very best tennis players have the best coaches.
"There are a lot of good tennis players but the ones that become great have the best coaches.
"It means they have someone to refer to in their behaviour and their emotions.
"In tennis you are depending on your emotional balance to perform well.
"In rugby you can get away with it a bit more.
"You can be in a really bad mood and still play great but there is still a line you can cross.”
Clarke spent the majority of her adolescent years in West Africa and said it was her experiences there which formed her ideas about personal growth.
She is as an accomplished life coach with a deep understanding of bullying and social isolation.