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With social distancing practices, staying motivated is not the easiest thing to do. For athletes in particular, it can be challenging to adjust to at-home practices and other new restrictions that come along with in-person training. Now is the time for young athletes to seek inspiration from the little things and for coaches and parents to encourage them to do so.
Set small, short-term goals: If you are gearing up the return to sports, sometimes it is hard to be inspired when there is uncertainty with the new way of training. Encourage young athletes to set small, short-term goals like “I want to juggle the soccer ball 50 times” or “I want to play wall ball two times every week.” This gives them something tangible to focus on in the short run while they are still improving their skills.
Recognize improvements: Think of every workout or practice representing another brick in the wall. This time may not be completely transformative but recognizing their progress and improvement is crucial for building confidence. As an athlete, this means paying attention to the little things like being able to throw the ball just a little bit farther. For coaches and parents, this means pointing out these improvements, such as, “You are doing a great job keeping your eye on the ball,” or “I’m proud of you for following through on your commitments.”
Look to teammates for support: If athletes have a hard time getting motivated on their own, it helps to have someone else there—even virtually. Encourage kids to pair up with a friend for a virtual challenge or to go running (at a safe distance) with a buddy. It is inspiring to have someone else working hard alongside you and motivation is contagious. It’s also more fun to have a companion cheering you on and often you will get more out of the workout.
Keep it fun: Sometimes, you just have to mix it up a little bit. If it has been a long week, try a different activity. If you play soccer, try shooting some basketball hoops. If you play lacrosse, try tennis. If it’s raining outside, try yoga or a 7-minute indoor workout.
Most importantly, think positive thoughts and try to not let social distancing get you down. Keep focusing on the small improvements and before you know it, sports will be back 100%.