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Coronavirus: Six ways athletes can maintain their health amid lockdown

Coronavirus: Six ways athletes can maintain their health amid lockdown

Mamata Revankar

Published: 8 April 2020 11:42 AM GMT

The COVID-19 pandemic has paralysed the world in its grip and there is a lot of uncertainty looming over all of us. The sports industry has taken a major hit and the recent postponement of the Olympics is a testament to this fact. All athletes, be it amateurs or elite, have had to gather themselves in these difficult times.

Rani Rampal | Source: Hockey India Rani Rampal | Source: Hockey India

However, sports is all about being strong in the face of adversity. Utilising the time in skill development and improvement, maintaining a positive outlook and emerging stronger once the sky is clear is what will set an athlete apart. The Bridge has listed down ways with the help of which athletes can manage and respond to the anxiety and stress that come with these rare times.

Make your home a training facility by sticking to your old routine, albeit a modified one. All athletes have a dedicated schedule for training, strength, conditioning, and fitness. Maintain the same by working out using stairs, a stationary bicycle or treadmills at home for conditioning.

MC Mary Kom | Source: Hindustan Times MC Mary Kom | Source: Hindustan Times

Do strength training using things like bottles, resistance bands, body-weight or a TRX (suspension equipment for strengthening muscles). For example, instead of using a hip abductor machine in the gym for working lateral glutes, one can do banded monster walks or sidewalks at home to strengthen the same muscle group.

Also read: Mind Matters | How to take care of mental health during coronavirus

You must learn to focus on neglected aspects, including balance and core. Being a sports physiotherapist, I have seen the reluctance athletes demonstrate while doing core, balance or agility exercises. Utilise this time to work on your core by doing pilates’ mat exercises or planks for the core, standing on one leg and doing ball dribbles on the wall to improve balance or improving agility and reaction time by doing agility drills for a competitive edge over others.

Practice mental visualisation and imagery, it is said that sports is 10% physical and 90% mental. Thus, being cooped at home opens up new avenues for athletes to perfect their mental game. Mental visualisation involves the athlete to be transported mentally inside a game. It is a highly cognitive process where the athlete imagines himself to be in a game, delivering a stroke or kicking the ball and getting an outcome. This builds muscle memory and helps him to perform his best when he encounters a similar situation in a real game. This is what sets great athletes apart from the pack. The goal is to not only visualise, but visualise vividly.

Bajrang Punia | Source: The New Indian Express Bajrang Punia | Source: The New Indian Express

Practice shadow or partner drills. Shadow drills are an excellent method to maintain muscle memory, be it shadow drills done for strokes or footwork in badminton or even as a tactic in football. One must focus on improving their technique or unlearning a previous wrong pattern.

Looking at the bigger picture is of utmost importance. Although the current scenario looks bleak, the pandemic has affected each athlete in equal measures. Ignoring the near future, one should train themselves for the distant one as time for once, is on our side. Instead of looking at it as a leisure period, they should remain determined and not slack. They should focus on good nutrition, adequate hydration and develop a positive outlook because the light shines brightest at the end of the tunnel.

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