The Olympics are on, maybe they're not, who knows when and if, and under what circumstances. Local events are postponed, some cancelled, and those that are postponed need to give clarity as to what the rules will be when they do take place, what will the new qualifying criteria be and what age groups.
The athletes are facing a massive anti climax, most of them having worked an entire season towards a target and all of those opportunities to evaluate themselves have been stopped. School is out. Very few play dates being organised, no parties, no festivals, zero to little social interaction with any peers for everyone.
Club owners are likely worried about many things, including income, as many parents are worried about salaries and job cuts.
Over and above all of this is the question of whether or not this will work, and what if it doesn't. Then what?
But during all of this there are still some seriously important lessons that are available to our young athletes, and skills that we can teach them to improve and manage their mental state. As the saying goes - one has to focus on what they can control. At this point it doesn't feel like we can control much, but we do have the power to control how we respond to things that are happening around us. Its time to encourage our athletes to become resourceful, find out how well they can self motivate and hold themselves to account for what they know needs to happen.
I have some examples and ideas for coaches and parents.
Through Complete Athlete we will be running a series of online workshops to help athletes manage and improve their mental state. They are given a series of exercises and an opportunity to talk to their groups and engage with their peers and teammates. These online meetings are a great way for your team to interact and hold each other accountable for the weeks targets. By running these meetings you can check in with your groups, chat about how everyone is feeling, share ideas, and get feedback about their state. If you notice that they are feeling demotivated, you can direct them to our program, or you can deal with it as you see fit. It's too easy to hide behind text messages and tell someone what you think they want to hear. Seeing their faces will go a long way to keeping you in check with your team culture.
Athlete projects and assignments.
Assignment topics can include some of the following, and I encourage people to elaborate on this. Properties and behavior of water in relation to how you get faster, a conditioning routine for athletes in your age group, Reviews of swimming videos and a suggestions list for other, the FINA rules of your favourite stroke. A seasonal review, looking at your performances over the past season - Where are the biggest improvements, and what can be done to address areas where you don't feel like there was much improvement. These assignments are a good way for them to be distracted from whats going on the world for a while, but also keeps them engaged with swimming in another way. The key here is how are you going to keep them accountable for the assignments. You want to create a habit of discovery here, not make it feel like a task.
Live conditioning class
Find, or put together a live conditioning class, within the limitations of your personal indemnity, and encourage the team to talk about it afterwards.
Create a platform where the team can share videos, informative or humourous, about some of the things they are getting up to while at home to stay strong. Try and keep it sport specific, but be very creative. Make use of a variety of equipment. Make use of the skipping rope, foam roller, thera-bands, stretch cords.
The key message for this post though is to create certainty where you can. We need to get the kids to work towards the other side of this situation, so that they actually have a picture of themselves on the other side of this. Things are so uncertain now, my goal is just to try and create a degree of certainty where I can, even if the kids are only certain about the fact that on a Monday morning my team and I will show up for the meeting, or that they will have an interesting activity for the week.
Good luck this week!