Local psychologists advise athletes on way forward during COVID-19 pandemic

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L -Sports psychologist, Launee Richards R- Clinical psychologist, Regina Apparicio
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By Carlena Knight

With frustration rising due to the postponement of international sports amid the coronavirus pandemic, sports psychologist Launee Richards has spoken out.

 Quite recently, the Summer Olympics which was scheduled to take place in July of this year, was postponed until 2021 and on the local scene a 30-day ban has been implemented on all domestic leagues.

She believes that athletes should first acknowledge their frustration but, instead of lamenting on it, refocus on their goals.

“I think it would be good for persons to first acknowledge any feelings they have. Any sort of feelings of anger or anxiety

[and]

disappointment because they are expected and they are justified especially at these times, when you would have made quite a lot of sacrifices during the school term or even otherwise during your  personal life to train to reach to this point and it not happen, so what I would recommend is for persons to sort of refocus their goals

[or]

create new goals so when the time comes they are able to go forward knowing what it is they would like to achieve with this new timeframe and also working towards it so that they can still compete at their best,” she said.

“Depending on the sport you are playing, the time would vary in engaging in goal setting where you would have said ‘ok in June this will be my peak, this will be my end point’. However, if it’s lengthened, like the Olympics, you have to restart your goals as if you were doing it last year.

“It would be really useful if you were able to identify areas of improvement that may still exist, then use this opportunity to sort of work on these little areas.”

Adapting to the surroundings and resting were other suggestions Richards gave athletes who will continue to train.

“In addition to sort of going along with the normal things that you are accustomed to doing, although you’re not able to do so in a gym or using the facilities you are accustomed to, can you adapt it to your home setting? Or to wherever it is you are? Can you include your trainer or coach? Do you still have access to them so that while you are at home you can still engage in what you are accustomed to doing to kind of keep up with the routine so it does not feel like if you have come to a halt?

“This is a really good time to take the opportunity to rest yourself and sort of restart. Don’t feel the need to go straight for the next year because your body will eventually get exhausted and so this is a really good period to rest [and] refocus but to still keep active,” she explained.

“Putting your basic needs first” is the advice Richards has for those professional athletes who have felt the financial blow of the postponements.

“Obviously, competitions are cancelled but you take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally. You can also get support from other persons.

“Find other things to put in place so you have a little bit of a financial cushion and it’s also a learning experience where you can say, ok I cannot only depend on this solely. What am I going to do, am I going to invest my money? Am I going to save some of the money? How am I going to spend my money in the future so that should something happen I am not at such a great financial loss?”  

Clinical psychologist Regina Apparicio also joined in the conversation by speaking to sporting fans and suggesting ideas for them to cope.

“In the case that you are accustomed to being very extroverted it’s likely to have some sort of impact in the sense that you may begin to feel like ‘oh my gosh this is too much [and] when it is that this will be over’ and things like that so it is very important now to find alternatives ways of dealing with the situation.

“Probably taking up a hobby, maybe even looking at a less contact sport to be involved in [and] maintaining fitness. I would even say to go as far as to even watch an old game because sometimes you may have watched something in the past and missed something so in a sense all is not lost during this rough time.”

Apparicio believes that if sporting fans and athletes make use of the resources around them it will help cushion built-up frustration.

    Both women were speaking on the Good Morning JoJo Sports show last Friday.

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