My Sports Story
I had a passion – hockey. From the age of 11, I single mindedly and obsessively dedicated myself to this sport. I loved it. The more I trained, the better I became and the more success I achieved…it was hugely addictive. I loved the feeling of ‘being in it together’ – the shared history of training camps and fitness tests; the shared nerves beforehand; the ‘us v them’ feeling during; the shared elation or devastation afterwards; the letting our hair down afterwards and the consequent gossip.

I loved the adrenaline highs of match days and the joy of being ‘in the zone’, when all the training became worthwhile as everything worked supremely with such ease. As well as the camaraderie, for me, there was my love of the training I did on my own. I concocted elaborate skill routines on my carpets in my home, on the lawn outside, on old bits of carpet in the garage and on the beach on my holidays.

Dribbling, hitting, pushing, flicking, scooping – I would drill them all again and again until my hands would be blistered and bleeding, until the tide came in, until I’d scored that winning flick or completed a drill out of 10 that I was happy with – I was not the easiest taskmaster to please! And there were my fitness routines – speed, stamina, weights and fartleck sessions – all done whatever the weather & however I felt. Nothing else really mattered to me. My training was my purpose in life… tunnel vision had one goal in sight – the Olympic Games. Hockey & I became one – I was Lucy Cope, the hockey player – that was my identity.
I had a great deal of success in my hockey career – at schoolgirl, county, regional, club & international level. And I had major disappointments. And following years of struggling with illness and injury I made the very painful decision to retire from hockey at the age of 25.
Since then I have faced different challenges – loss of identity, the grief of having to turn my back on an elite athlete’s life and a feeling of being lost in the sporting wilderness. Amidst all this I reluctantly went to see a counsellor. I say reluctantly because my surname is Cope – I always believed I should just get on with life and I have trained my body to push through everything to achieve my goals.

Going to someone, to speak out my problems, made me cringe. It went against my whole sense of being. I’m a fighter and I felt hugely embarrassed at what I perceived to be a weak thing to do. The resulting emotional journey and my decision to train as a counsellor are testimony to how this perception has changed. I now see it as an extremely strong thing to do and it is as tough and challenging as any of the matches I played in or 400 repetitions I did. And it has been hugely rewarding. It has helped me find myself again, to see clearly through the fog and be true to who I really am.
Sports & Counselling
‘Sports people don’t go for counselling.’
I challenge this statement. I am acutely aware of the need for sports people to be mentally tough and not show any chinks in their armour. Yet, it is difficult to perform optimally in life, if you ignore problems and bottle them up. Denying difficulties restricts you from living your life to the full and from fulfilling your potential as a sports person. I often use the analogy that as sports people, we feel we have to present ourselves as a well polished vase and cover over any cracks. If these cracks go neglected, eventually the vase breaks. If as the cracks appear, they are tended to, the cracks turn into a strong surface, giving increased support and strength for the goal ahead.
How is counselling different to sport psychology?

There are plenty of resources out there in sport psychology – how to reach those peak levels of performance, how to be a winner etc. But what about there being a qualified person there for you to talk to in the darker moments, when you’re experiencing life difficulties whilst trying to excel at your sport, you don’t make the cut, you’re suffering from injury, you’re retiring from sport or once retired, you’re trying to fill the void in your life after having given your heart to your sport.

At these times, it may benefit you hugely to see a counsellor.

Why would a sports person come to Cope Counselling?
My life journey has been one of loving sport and being on its emotional rollercoaster. Having experienced the highs as well as the lows in sport and having been through the process of retiring from my sport, I believe I am well qualified to support sports people throughout their sporting careers and beyond. I view coming to Cope Counselling as a mental work-out, just as integral to your training regimes as any of your fitness, skills or sport psychology sessions. I work separately from all sporting organizations. Your time with me is completely confidential, even from team managers and coaches.