Over the course of lockdown we have focused a lot on helping athletes to practice properly from home and try to stay on top of their game. But, with sport slowly returning again, we thought we’d give you some ideas on how to bounce back from lockdown and perform to your best again.
Dealing with change
First and foremost, everyone has gone through some big changes over the last few months. Whilst sport returning certainly feels like a change for the better, it is still another change in people’s normal routines that they will need to get used to. When it comes to dealing with change, some athletes are better than others.
Generally speaking though, one thing can be assured in life, and that is that change is inevitable. However, those who cope best with the change adapt faster, more effectively and embrace the challenge more.
Ask for help
Especially in times like these, asking for help is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness. Good people to ask for help from include friends, family, coaches and training partners. This is because it helps you learn from other experiences and can show you other ways to deal with the same situation. For example, if you know other athletes, ask them for help because they are in the same boat too.
Sleep, sleep, sleep
When we don’t have to leave the house, the temptation to stay up late and sleep less can be all too much. However, when you start training and competing again at higher intensities, sleep becomes even more vital for both your mind and your body. A lack of sleep causes moodiness and irritability, whilst also encouraging pessimistic thinking. It also means your body recovers more slowly and you will be more likely to get injured. All of this makes it harder to bounce back best and approach new challenges with a positive outlook.
To make sure you get a good night’s sleep, check out our sleep guide here and be sure not to make any of the 9 most common sleep mistakes. For athletes with usually busy schedules, this is a great chance to finally get your sleeping pattern right!
Keep a routine
Reacting to change can be difficult especially if you don’t have a routine to follow. With the shift slowly taking place for athletes from being at home, to being outside more often and even to training and competing more regularly, lots of athletes will need to develop new strategies or think back to reimplement old strategies and behaviours. All of these are more likely to be effective if you weave them into a daily routine.
Here’s a guide to maintaining new habits to help you.
What do you want to achieve?
At the start of lockdown many athletes may have had to change their focus and their goals. With this further change, this is something that you will likely have to do all over again. This means that re-adjusting your goals to match the current climate is really important. Whilst many athletes will be keen to simply swap their goals back to what they used to be. It is likely that we will encounter even more changes as we get closer to sport returning fully, and we are still uncertain on what the future will look like. Realistically, our pre-lockdown goals might not be relevant, and we should take a more fluid and adaptable approach to setting ourselves objectives.
Reflect on the past
One really nice way to make sure that athletes are ready to compete again is to think about the past. Specifically, when they have performed at their best in training and in competition. This helps athletes to feel more confident, more motivated and less nervous. For example, some useful questions athletes can ask themselves include:
- ‘How did I prepare when I was playing my best?’
- ‘What helped me feel less nervous before a competition?’
- ‘Why did I feel confident before matches?’
Although lots of people are excited about sport coming back, some will be nervous or worried about it to. What if planning is a great way to help athletes in any situation that they might have fears about. It encourages them to think about what is worrying them, and then to plan for the situation if it was to happen. We like using this with our athletes because it helps them to prepare and really think about how they can help themselves. It is also a good way to acknowledge the situation they are in, rather than pretend it’s not happening.
To find out more about how to use this technique, check out this blog.
The last few months have been a testing time for everyone and whilst we are not completely back to normal, it looks like we are heading that way slowly. Those that bounce back best will hit the ground running by embracing the challenge and using some of the techniques above!