Bouncing Back Into Gymnastics

Are we mentally prepared?

Sport has always been an activity that brought the community together and promotes social cohesion. Few events have altered day to day function across the globe as has COVID-19. In what seems like an instant we have gone from training and congregating wherever and whenever we want, to travel restrictions, closed borders, closed training centres, and millions of people living in self-isolation. Pandemics in one sense are isolating, while in another they are unifying. Neighbourhoods and communities band together to ensure those less fortunate and looked after. Teams find themselves in similar circumstances of training and competition interruption, while wondering when the situation will improve.

Since COVID-19 started to make its way across the globe, it has affected athletes and sport organisations in variable ways. There are understandable uncertainties and anxieties about when competitions will be held, how to maintain fitness and training, and whether competitive sport will resume this year.

Thankfully, we have begun the road back into gyms and community sport. How do we prepare mentally for this new challenge?

Advice for Athletes, Coaches, Parents and Support Staff

1. It is normal to feel fear.
This is a serious pandemic and we must exercise vigilance. Restrictions are established in the interest of personal and public safety and they must be respected. These are uncertain times and the scientists at the leading edge of this virus are learning more and more daily. We must heed their recommendations and do what we can to “flatten the curve.”

2. It is important to take a “health first” approach.
Mental health and physical health must come before training. If you are experiencing ANY symptoms of COVID-19, follow the protocols and seek advice around testing. Attend to any and all health needs at this time, performance will return once we are healthy.

3. Mental health can suffer during this time.
Anxiety would be normal under these circumstances, with an abundance of uncertainty about how things will unfold over the next days, weeks and months.

 4. “Control what you can control.”
We need to trust that the experts are doing their jobs and will give us the right information at the right time. We must trust that our sport organisations are going to heed the advice of the experts and make decisions that make safety the top priority.

5. Change your field of vision.
A necessary quality of an athlete is that they must be able to stay focused on their goals and about the long game. Right now, the long game is unclear, and to reduce the anxiety about that requires shifting your vision to the present and redefining the goals and purpose of the short game. The short game must include elements to establish and maintain the foundational building blocks of health, including good nutrition, adequate sleep, self-care, and doing things that make you feel better about yourself.

6. Stay connected to your teammates and programs.
You are not alone in this! This situation is affecting everyone to a different degree for different reasons.

7. Reach out for support.
Even if you think you’re just feeling mild or normal anxiety. This is a major disruption in daily life-not just sport. It affects us all and sometimes it can be very helpful to just express what you are going through to someone else.

 8. Know where to go.
The type of struggles you are having may dictate what level of support you need.

Click to view Gymnastics NSW's Return to Sport Plan