We have received great news that many of us have been waiting for, anticipating with hope and optimism — the return of sport. It appears our patience (and effort) may have finally paid off. Though the starting line is just ahead of us, it's important to remember that there are still many obstacles that we may not have even considered in our desire to return to sport.
Learning that we may have the opportunity to capture at least part of a season, that our athletes will have the chance to get back out there, to kick a ball with their friends, to step on the ice once again, to take their bases with their teams is fantastic. However, we cannot forget the challenges that our athletes have faced over the past year, that we have all faced. As we prepare ourselves to get back at it, let’s be mindful that it may not look the same, in fact, it may look very different. Granted there will be restrictions and limitations, but we have grown accustomed to those. What may surprise us is what re-entry may look like for not only our players but coaches as well.
Over the past year, the starts and stops have undoubtedly taken a toll. The usual routine of working out, honing one’s skills, improving collaboration, and building connections have been inconsistent at best. We can certainly go on about how the physicality of athletes has been affected and the necessity to be patient and understanding of that reality.
Considerations for supporting your athletes in return to sport
Allow space for whatever they bring
We cannot be completely sure of what we will see, this is not something we’ve encountered before. With that in mind, we reached out to some athletes to see where they are at in terms of getting back to sport. It comes as little surprise that the initial responses were largely related to concerns about physicality.
What our athletes are sharing about their physicality
- Concerns around cardio and the possibility of burnout
- Unsure of their level of strength after working out alone for so long
- Anxiousness around performance
Naturally, we wanted to know more. Is there anything on their minds in terms of how they are feeling? We were pleased with the transparency as they shared both their excitement and fears.
What our athletes are saying about their mentality
- To finally train with people
- A sense of relief, to gauge where they are at
- To connect with teammates
- To be around people
- Motivated to get back to what they love
- Anxious to perform for coaches who are tough
- Receiving harsh criticism for not being as physically fit
- Being punished rather than encouraged
- Coaches not understanding where they are at
We are hopeful. We are optimistic. Now let’s be prepared.
We have come to understand that our athletes are full of a wide range of feelings. As coaches who are excited to get back at it, reconnect with their teams, and enjoy the familiarity of practice and games we must recognize that it may look far from familiar.
Though it is completely understandable to want to jump in full force we encourage you to be mindful of the many challenges that may come. Now may be the time to walk rather than run. It is important you take the time to recognize where your athletes are at and to be supportive when they may look a little different.
Take the time to:
- Be positive and supportive
- Motivate with encouragement
- Demonstrate understanding
- Encourage risks
- Allow them to mess up
- Try out a new style if need be
Most of all, enjoy the return to sport! Be excited and celebrate with your athletes and keep in mind to remain patient. You will get to where you want to be faster if your team is connected and excited, not to mention healthier, happier, and ultimately more successful.
IS ONE OF YOUR ATHLETES STRUGGLING?
Watch psychotherapists and Hone founders, Jessica Renney and Paula McQuaid, in this informative webinar as they discuss how you can be a source of support to those who are struggling.