What’s Up: The impact of postponing and cancelling sports events
The importance of physical exercise has been proven to be highly related to the physical and psychological health of an individual. However, if we take it a step further, it is even more important for athletes. In this column, we wonder how postponement and cancellation of sports events can affect the psychological preparation of athletes.
The timing of the coronavirus and the preventive measures put in place have greatly affected sport and the lives of athletes. Let's put ourselves in the shoes of an athlete who, after last year's postponement of competitions, focused all their energy on the competition foreseen to be held this year. They set goals for them, motivated themself and trained hard. All this until the moment when the event gets postponed again. What consequences can this have for the individual, especially when we are talking about student-athletes who, among other things, coordinate the study process with sport (also further complicated by epidemiological conditions)?
But first let's established what is psychological preparation all about. The psychological preparation of an athlete is a mental exercise. It is basically about learning ways to deal with stress, developing responsibility towards yourself and others, learning self-control, relaxation techniques and concentration.
We can conclude that for an athlete, this is a period of tension, stress, disappointment, and worry. Similar decisions or news are also directly related to the athlete's motivation. The psychological preparation they had already done, the goals the athlete had already set for themselves, faded. All that remained was insecurity and a lack of hope for major sporting events. As a result, the athlete will not be able to display and improve his or her athletic abilities, as a large part of the latter (in physical and psychological aspects) develops in an actual competitive environment while socializing with other athletes.
Problems also arise at a time when athletes are exiting one age category and entering another, such as a higher age category. Form and self-confidence also play a big role here, which the athlete (again) builds to a large extent in competitions.
Regardless of everything, the athlete, together with their coach, has to redesign the entire training cycle, which requires a certain amount of time and concentration to avoid possible injuries. In an athlete, however, this can trigger a sense of regression or fear of failure. The reason for this is the repeatedly postponed or cancelled competitions, where the athlete returns to training without real feedback from the field and with the feeling that they have not achieved or improved anything yet again.
What can you do if you find yourself in a similar situation?
We suggest below some methods or ways you can reduce the impact of negative feelings and return to the training process as soon as possible.
• Actively observe and control your thoughts.
• Accept things as they are. Change is a part of life.
• Try to create a daily routine that you follow so that you do not fall into a period of trouble.
• Stay calm and use meditation, breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, listen to music…
• Talk to your coach about how to train and set new goals based on your current situation.
• Divert your attention - embark on some new technical element, do things you couldn't do while in training or simply rest for a while.
• Don't be alone - share your thoughts, moods and well-being with family or online with others, share suggestions and ideas on what to do and how to spend your time.
If none of the suggestions above work for you, you can always consult a sports psychologist for advice on how to deal with the psychological effects of the current situation.
The author Nina Plank is the former President of ŠKIS, current member of the EUSA Student Commission, and has recently completed her master’s studies in sport management at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Ljubljana.
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