Advice for Athletes in COVID-19: Use This Time to Build Strength, Skill and Mental Toughness

In times of crisis, the world has often turned to sports for comfort and camaraderie. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, sports have been severely restricted for the greater good of public safety, and everyone from coaches to fans are feeling the effects. Millions of young athletes have lost not only their opportunities to compete, but their everyday connections with teammates.

Stay active and focused.

  • Make a plan for where you’ll direct your time and energy – for individual fitness goals, and overall well-being – and structure it into a daily schedule.
  • Get outdoors for solo runs or jogs. (Be sure to practice social distancing.)
  • Work with your coach to determine sport-specific skills and drills that you can adapt for home, like stick skills for hockey or lacrosse, or ball skills for soccer.
  • Many online exercise platforms are currently waiving membership fees. Look online for trusted sources that fit your needs.

> Our sports physical therapists teach programs to improve performance, available via Video Visit

Use this time to prevent injury.

  • Take time to work on flexibility and range of motion exercises, from yoga to foam rolling and static stretching.
  • For strengthening outside a gym, add bodyweight exercises into your home routine: Air squats, walking lunges, single-leg balances, glute bridges, planks, deadbugs, bird dogs, push-ups, sit-ups and burpees are great examples.
  • Participate in home programs designed to prevent injury, like an ACL injury prevention program (especially important for female athletes) or a cervical strengthening program (which may reduce concussion risk). Call 866.620.9748 to schedule a Video Visit with our sports physical therapists.

Establish other healthy habits.

  • Carve out time to work on mental skills such as focus, goal-setting, relaxation and visualization. Follow your own practice or use an app like Headspace, Calm, WellU or Fit Brains.
  • Take the opportunity to focus on nutrition. Can you make more positive choices about how you fuel yourself? Learn how to create a healthy meal plan, and ask a parent to coach you up on cooking skills.

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Stay connected.

  • Stay socially connected to friends and teammates through social media and video chats.
  • Share YouTube links of workouts, skills and drills.
  • Schedule live (virtual) workouts over a video chat platform.
  • Set small group conditioning challenges.
  • Compete virtually with friends, family and teammates —using your own devices, like trading videos of the best driveway basketball shot or sprint split, or using a platform like Zwift, Garmin, MapMyRun, Strava and ErgBuddy.

Share your feelings with others, and ask for help if you feel depressed or anxious.

  • This change in lifestyle is difficult for athletes all over the world, especially those who feel that their sport is their identity. If you’re experiencing a loss of purpose, motivation or self-worth, ask for help. Two pediatric psychologists share tips for helping teens cope with stress.
  • You’re not alone. You can lean on the people in your personal support network, as well as the specialists at Connecticut Children’s, to help you find solutions.

Someday, we will return to the sports we love. Until then, take this time to be stronger, faster, and mentally tougher than ever. You can do it – and we’re here to support you.

Our sports medicine services are now in Fairfield County! Learn more >

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