It has been more than 150 days that we are restricted to our houses because of the novel coronavirus. In the initial days, the athletes and the entire sports fraternity faced anxiety and worry since they were drawn away from their comfortable environment. As a sport psychology practitioner, it is understandable that the situation must have been tough. However, being sports-persons, we are taught to be adaptive and resilient. Now that there is news going around about lifting the restrictions and resuming training, it is essential that we take a moment to reflect on the lockdown. Doing this will help the transition from homes to arenas better!
With the firm belief that if we change our perspective, if we focus on how we appraise a situation, dealing with the task at hand becomes easier. And so, when we look at the lockdown period, we cannot help but notice certain affirmative outcomes that may have come out of it. Though our focus shifted from living to surviving, it definitely has taught us all a lot.
One of the primary things being, the realisation that our health and immunity is our real wealth. Having said that, building up mental immunity is something that athletes have focused on during the lockdown. They realised the importance of mental conditioning, more than ever, and started taking steps towards building their mental fitness. A few reflections we noticed during the lockdown, integral to an athlete's process are mentioned below:
- Importance of mental training - Building mental skills is not an overnight process, it takes up time and mental energy. This lockdown provided the athletes a lot of space to work on their minds actively. This mental conditioning will definitely help them resume their training not just physically but mentally stronger as well.
- Accepting the present moment - Initially, there was definitive anxiety among some athletes which is an absolutely normal response to a challenging circumstance. Athletes have this superpower of being adaptive to the present situation and it was further strengthened. It is important to realise that irrationally fighting the present situation will not be much of help, rather, taking time to accept the scenario will help you to be attuned with the process of dealing with the situation. The ability to go with the present moment is a skill to have in your belt. Even when the athlete is on court, staying in the present moment will help in remaining focused and aid in enjoying the performance.
- Emotional bandwidth - Another important thing this lockdown has taught us is our ability to be flexible, more so mentally. It has reinforced the fact that we can make use of the resources available to us and make the most of them as opposed to whining about what is not available. In a way, this has taught us to be creative, look for alternative options, and has widened our scope of possibilities. In a particular match, it may so happen that your next strategy or plan may not work. At that point in time, an athlete should be mentally flexible and open to new plans and experimenting, rather than being rigid. This is also something that the lockdown has reiterated. Like the old saying goes, "necessity is the mother of invention"!
- Reflection and analysis - Since athletes were confined to our homes, they got the mental space and time to analyse their past performances. Reflecting on past performances and noting down the improvements will serve a better ground when they resume training. This habit of reassessing, analyzing, reflecting, and realigning is crucial to any athlete.
Along with this, our ability to stay patient, focus on what is controllable, and learning to adapt is something the lockdown has re-taught us all. Taking the time to reflect or slowing down is not something that may come naturally to many of us, especially since we live in this fast-paced era where quick results are the need of the hour. Having said that, it is an important life skill which we should all hold on to in the post-coronavirus world.
Here’s hoping that the world gets back to functioning like before and athletes resume training!