How to cope if your sports team training has been cancelled

For many of us, playing sport is a lifeline.

No matter if you’re playing at an elite level, or just playing at a casual level with mates after work or at the weekend – sport provides a sense of purpose, an outlet for stress, and vital social connections for many.

Under the latest coronavirus advice from the Government, people are being strongly advised to start social distancing. That means no unneccessary travel, no meeting up with mates, and no training or playing matches with your teammates.

And for many people – particularly those who rely on their weekly fix of running around for their mental health – the cancellation of training and fixtures in football, netball, hockey, and pretty much every other team sport in the country, will be a huge blow.

How to stay match-fit

If you’re sporty, a big concern about weeks of no training will be losing form.

When this is all over, we will want to step back on that pitch, court or track and not have months of work to get back to your best.

Home workouts are great for maintaining strength, even working on cardio, but what about the specific skills and techniques you need to learn from your coach, or work on with your team?

Netball coach Lesley Tischler has been in close contact with her club since the decision was made to cancel matches and training, and she has lots of advice for players to stay strong and stay motivated – even on their own.

‘If you’re not symptomatic, get outside in the mornings (early morning sunshine has been proven to lift spirits) go for a walk, jog or maybe do some intervals,’ Lesley suggests.

‘For netballers, if you’ve got a ball, find a wall and there are any number of wall and ball skills you can work on. Left hand. Right hand. Balance on one leg. Jump up. Spin around. How many in 30 seconds? Throw and catch with eyes closed. Add a target.’

Strength training is a really important part of a netball training program, and Lesley says you don’t always need weight – bodyweight workouts shouldn’t be underestimated.

‘Squats, lunges, rear foot elevated split squats, single-leg hamstring bridges, pogo jumps, single-leg calf raises, plank, side planks. Get on YouTube,’ Lesley suggests. ‘You’ve got the time to get amazing technique.’

Speaking of YouTube, Superleague netballer Sasha Corbin runs a channel called Solo Sessions, which is all about sport-specific workouts you can do alone, both outside and in the gym. But her latest update is a quarantine special edition that aims to lift your spirits and your heart-rate from your living room.

Whatever sport you play, it’s likely there will be similar tutorials and guides online. Also many elite players share their training hints and tips on social media – so keep your eye on Instagram and YouTube for training tips that suit your specific sport.

Sport England is also collating an incredible resource of home workouts to help support the sports community during this period. They’re asking people to share their workouts on social media using #StayInWorkOut – so search for this if you’re in need of inspiration.

How to stay mentally fit

Playing sport is a different experience to working out in the gym. Yes, it gets you fit, but it’s also an incredible source of social connection and relieves stress and anxiety. For many of us, sport becomes an important part of our identities.

With sport off the table – no training, no matches, no regular contact with your teammates and coach – you might start to feel anxious or low. But it’s important to stay connected and remember that this is just a temporary state of affairs.

‘It’s ok not to be ok,’ Lesley tells us. ‘If you’re feeling uneasy or out of sorts, reach out to connect to someone. In the first few days at home it’s ok to shift your usual fitness regime to a Sunday or Christmas rest.

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