Coping With the Covid-19 Interruptions
The coronavirus has impacted every area of life across all nations. In particular, COVID-19 has affected the athletic world in profound, wide-reaching and life-altering ways.
Dramatic changes to scheduling have impacted all professional sports due to COVID-19:
- The NBA suspended play
- The NHL suspended play
- The MLS suspended play
- PGA Tour events are either cancelled or postponed
- WTA and ATP events have been postponed or cancelled
- The MLB season has been delayed
Amateur sports have also been interrupted by the effects of COVID-19:
- The NCAA basketball tournament was cancelled
- Most collegiate sports have been cancelled
- The Olympics may be postponed for a year
- Junior-level sports and youth sports are either cancelled or postponed
The impact of the worldwide pandemic presents unique, formidable challenges to all athletes and all citizens of the world.
As an athlete, consider how the coronavirus has impacted your season… You have trained for years. You put in your blood, sweat and tears getting ready for major competitions, breakout seasons or the culmination of your athletic career… You have prepared like never before to raise your game to the next level and achieve high personal standards. You felt confident and ready to accomplish your athletic goals…Then, suddenly, everything comes to screeching halt. Your whole season is lost and you feel overwhelming emptiness.
The pandemic is not discriminatory. For many high school and college seniors, this was their last season as a competitive athlete. After years of dedicated training and competing, their final opportunity has been ripped from their grasp and they have been denied their last hurrah. Olympic athletes have to put their lives on hold for another year and completely change their training plans and regimens. Some Olympic hopefuls may not have the opportunity to continue their Olympic dreams.
Times like these are tough. You have every right to acknowledge and mourn the losses you are experiencing, as well you should. You may not be able to get back what you have lost, but you don’t have to sit home devastated, lamenting about the unfairness of it all. That approach will only serve to deepen feelings of loss, sadness, hopelessness and helplessness.
There is another option, though it is not easily accomplished, that will require you to look at your circumstances though a different lens, a positive perspective. Despite the fact that the world is experiencing hardship and disruption, there are positive lessons to be learned and meaningful steps you can take to make a strong impact on your corner of the world. Purposeful action builds resiliency, otherwise known by athletes as mental toughness.
Effective Strategies for Athletes and Parents
It is important to remember that sport teaches you valuable lessons that can aid you in overcoming challenging circumstances. Likewise, life provides beneficial lessons that can be applied to sport and teach you to become a mentally tougher athlete.
Staying strong during times of adversity requires parents and athletes to focus on what they can control.
The following are positive action steps to help you move forward when adversity strikes hard:
- Revisit your ‘why.’ Why do you compete in your sport? Why did you start competing? What are the benefits of participating in your sport?
- Take advantage of your time. Do something to improve a skill, learn a new mental skill, build on your current physical capacities through calisthenics, stretching, diet, running and mental training, etc.
- Stay sharp. Preparation is the most important aspect of being a competitive athlete. Keep your mind engaged as if you were prepping for competition, returning from an injury, getting ready for a season or competing at a higher level.
- Learn from this experience. How can you apply the lessons learned from this hardship to other challenges you may face in your sport such as, conflict with teammates, rowdy fans, miscommunication with your coach, losses, missed opportunities, injury, etc?
- Focus on what you have, rather than what you have lost. What are the positive takeaways from this experience?
- Take a pause. Try to process what is going on around you and how you could emerge better and more resilient in the future.
- Be a great teammate. Some of your teammates may be experiencing more trying circumstances. Reach out to your teammates and let them know you are available for them.
- Take the opportunity to develop balance in your life. Balance fosters personal growth. Balance can include engaging in a new hobby, connecting with family, helping others in the community or setting new personal goals.
- Be supportive. You cannot erase the disappointment your child feels, nor should you try, but help them process their experience, navigate through the adversity they are facing and support them whenever necessary,
- Empower your child. While your child may not be able to go to school or compete in their sport, look for ways to help your child to respond in a positive manner.
- Broaden their perspective. The world is bigger than your child’s sport. Help your child view the world with greater empathy.
- Look for the positive. When you over-focus on the negative, you get stuck in a deep hole of depression and anxiety. There is always something positive even in the darkest situations.
- Stay active. Suggest ways to keep your child’s mind and body active such as going for a run, watching sport-specific videos or developing valuable mental skills.
- Connect with your child. Play games in the back yard, have a card tournament or simply talk about whatever is on their mind.
New York Yankee manager summed up the experience of athletes everywhere:
BOONE: “The bummer in realizing what is eventually coming up on Thursday is that we are aware we were just two weeks away when the plug got pulled. In my little selfish bubble, you think about all that goes into getting to that point of spring training. It is close to go time. It is frustrating that it ends. You do all of that offseason work that goes into spring training and to get to the two-week mark, you can feel how close (Opening Day is). Professionally, it is disappointing and frustrating. But I also feel I always have perspective on things. I know this is bigger than me and baseball. I will do my part and want the world to get back to its rightful place.”
To add on to what Aaron Boone said… What will you do to get yourself and your world back to its rightful place?
Tardio Tip: Act Boldly
Today’s tip is quite simple: Do something. Now is not the time to idly sit by but take advantage of an opportunity, focus on what you can do and take one step forward to do something positive for yourself, your family, your community or the world at large.