New Wellbeing App Could Have a Major Impact on Sports Worldwide

By | January 17, 2024

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The Victorian Jockeys’ Association (VJA) is set to launch a new online platform designed to aid the wellbeing of jockeys in Australian horse racing.

The innovative new app has been developed in collaboration between the Swinburne Centre for Mental Health and Australian-based company Readiness.

Racing Victoria and the Victorian Government’s Victorian Racing Industry Fund have jointly funded the app, which will help to promote self-care among jockeys in Australia.

Competing in horse racing can take a huge mental toll on jockeys, with the pressure to deliver positive results often resting heavily on their shoulders.

That point is hammered home even harder when it comes to riding in big weekend meetings, when trainers target success with the hottest Saturday racing tips in their stables.

The Jockey Wellbeing app will serve to alleviate some of the stress by prompting jockeys to engage in personal activities designed to support positive mental health.

These include completing a confidential weekly survey covering elements such as mind, body, mood, energy, sleep, diet, finances and overall job satisfaction.

Once the survey has been completed, the app connects seamlessly to support resources such as Stable Line, Financial Counselling Australia and the Jockey Assistance Program.

Elite athlete exercise scientist Simon Kearney has played a key role in developing the concept of Readiness which powers the new wellbeing app for jockeys.

Kearney has more than 20 years of experience working in elite sports, monitoring and improving each area of personal wellbeing to achieve peak performance.

Working alongside Australian businessman Gerry Ryan and data specialist Paul Francis, Kearney has created a concept which could be utilised in other sports worldwide.

Customisation is central to the Readiness platform and has allowed specially tailored content from the VJA to be integrated seamlessly into the app.

By facilitating greater social connections between jockeys in Australia, the app will help to create an environment where mutual support becomes far more prevalent.

The data collected by the app points jockeys in the direction of vital resources and allows Racing Victoria to gain insights on what it can do to improve the wellbeing of jockeys.

Matt Hyland, the Chief Executive Officer of the VJA, believes the app will become a vital component in supporting jockey welfare over the next few years, 

“Jockeys are extremely busy individuals and are constantly on the move,” Hyland said. “As they are effectively self-employed, they often have limited time for self-care in all areas, from mental and physical health, to financial support and even planning for life after riding.

“The app is not designed to replace face-to-face interaction, such as meeting with a psychologist, but it will hopefully help them to take ownership of some of their problems and direct them to the right place for help.

“It is also a useful tool for a jockey’s wider circle, such as their partner or families, as a jockey’s lifestyle doesn’t only affect the rider.”

Set to be officially launched in February 2024, the app will likely garner plenty of attention from other sports worldwide as they strive to find ways to support the wellbeing of their athletes.

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