MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This season the Minnesota Timberwolves have had a doctor helping their younger players deal with issues on and off the court.
Psychologist Dr. Yolanda Brooks sits, observes and takes notes of everything you probably don’t look for during a basketball game.
Brooks has worked for several professional sports teams over the years. Her mission is to help young players new to the NBA, and new to millionaire status, understand what has changed.
“That the family dynamics will change substantially … players have indicated that they become the power in the family. That their parents acquiesce to them and some players really want to parented even though now money is power in their family system. So they have the responsibility of taking care of their family,” said Brooks.
That’s the reality — that with the glory comes a new role; a role that has more freedom and more potential pitfalls then a college life.
“There are two things — structure is one part of it and the other is having a coach … they’re used to that so they’re all alone and they’ve not had that,” said Brooks.
What she sees on game night might be body language or focus or lack of focus. And then there is the new lessons they are learning when things don’t go their way.
“The true test of their character, their stamina, their mental strength is exposed at that time. And often they don’t know how to deal with it because they don’t have the support system in place they had before. So I help them identify resources that can help access those support systems,” said Brooks.
That’s what makes her job interesting — talking to players about nutrition one day.
“They need to learn how to eat, how to drink, for preparation, pre-game, during the game and post-game recovery,” she said.
Brooks also teaches them about how learning that their identity is not tied to basketball the next day.
“The part that really they struggle with is developing an identity because when they’re young, they are an individual and they play a sport. But at some point they foreclose on that identity and become one. So it’s not that they play it, they are it,” she said.
And through it all she finds a fuel that comes from some of the same things you’d find in coaching.
“I really, really enjoy seeing so many people work so hard toward a collective cause and many of those people you never see, you don’t know about, including even players on the team that never get that special attention because they may not be a star but they work just as hard,” said Brooks.