Tips for Athletes & Coaches
COVID-19 has resulted in cancelation of entire seasons, termination of big competitions, and dismantled training routines. As coaches and athletic trainers work to maintain athletes’ health and fitness amidst the COVID-19 protocols, the emotional rollercoaster persists and the future remains uncertain.
Coaches - What are some things you can do to help your athletes stay motivated and resilient?
Help your athletes craft a training plan. Setting aside time for strength and endurance training, and incorporating stretching and mental strength exercises will help them stay motivated and sharp. Maintaining routine helps with anxiety
Help your athletes find ways to connect with each other. Having regular social connection is critical during this time of isolation. Going from training every day together to isolation from your teammates is a deep loss. Setting up a time for your team of athletes to connect with each other virtually can aid in feelings of loneliness. The connection between teammates is unlike any other friendship, so setting aside time for your athletes to get together as a team virtually can be grounding during this time of upheaval; especially for those struggling to reach out for help.
Set a time aside to virtually watch a movie or clip related to your sport with your athletes. Then, begin a discussion on what you watched. Keeping that connection and collective love for the sport going, despite being isolated from one another, will help athletes stay motivated.
Help your athletes focus on the long term by having them set goals beyond this upcoming season.
Maintain an open and honest flow of communication. Check in with your athletes on how they are feeling and how you can support them. Reassure your athletes that although many factors are unknown, you are figuring this out together and will make modifications to the plan as the situation evolves.
Practice and model self-care the best you can.
Take the time to learn about the latest issues in sports psychology. Learn about depression, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, and anxiety. By knowing the warning signs of different mental illnesses, one can better identify an at-risk athlete and redirect them to the help they need. Research shows that repeated sessions of expressive writing could improve an athlete's experiences in relation to their evolving identity during the pandemic.
Athletes – What are some things you can do to stay motivated and resilient?
One of the most important things you can do throughout this pandemic is maintain a consistent routine (sleep schedule, meal times, training sessions, etc.). Athletes are wired for stability and dependability, so creating a consistent routine can boost self-confidence and one’s sense of control during this time of turmoil.
Remembering, reflecting, and recommitting to why you are training and competing in your sport can help you stay motivated.
This time is valuable and can be used to improve flexibility, strength, and mental strength. Mental skills, such as relaxation, visualization, confidence, focus, and goal setting, can be built outside of the rink or gym. There are a handful of apps (i.e., Calm, Headspace) that can aid in improving mental strength and agility.
Focus on what you can control. You have no control over when essential COVID-19 protocols will change, but you can control how you manage your time.
Maintain an open and honest flow of communication with your coaches or athletic trainers. Be honest during check ins and articulate what your coach can do to better support you during this time.
Start journaling. Journaling can help manage anxiety, reduce stress, and cope with depression by helping you prioritize problems, concerns, and fears.
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