In the wake of school shut-downs and the cancellation of countless sports competitions in order to slow the spread of Coronavirus, the loss of the season is very real for athletes. Right now, they are experiencing grief much like an athletic injury or death of a loved one. This may hit particularly hard for seniors who don’t have another year to play.
You may feel that all is lost, but I encourage you not to sacrifice all that you’ve worked so hard for. It is worth the effort to stay active in this crisis, and stay healthy and in shape. In addition, sticking to as much of your routine as possible (e.g. by continuing to work out during previously scheduled practice times) can help ground you with some consistency in this chaotic, ever-changing time.
Sport is also an athlete’s stress management tool. So while the structure of the season may be lost, it is important to stay active and connected to the sport, teammates, and staff you love (from a safe distance, of course.) It isn’t the same, but you don’t need to completely let go of all aspects of the sport you love, either.
And parents, the sport loss is real for us too. The best thing we can do is remain in emotional control and model the mental toughness and responsible behavior we want our child-athletes to develop. Our stability will calm their anxiety.
Dr. Eddie O’Connor is a nationally recognized clinical and sport psychologist, and has traveled the country speaking to schools, universities, teams, business organizations, and academic conferences about how to overcome obstacles to excellence.