What is SEL?
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the educational process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible and ethical decisions.
Team sports are one of the best places to explicitly practice SEL skills. On a team, building long-lasting relationships, setting daily goals, supporting teammates, making ethical decisions, managing emotions in critical and tense situations can be practiced every day for an entire season.
SEL is not taught implicitly, without an awareness of what is being learned or by modeling behavior as we do with teamwork, sportsmanship, putting team above self and creating a positive climate. Rather it is taught explicitly as in, “Today we are going to practice the different ways we can create a positive, safe and supportive environment” or “Today, we are going to practice goal-setting” or “Today we are going to practice the skill called ‘active listening.’”