The British Psychological Society has published guidance for athletes on protecting their mental health and maintaining motivation during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lockdown measures introduced to deal with the spread of the virus have disrupted the training regimes of most athletes, while many have also seen competitions or important dates postponed.
Keeping motivation as an athlete in these circumstances can be difficult, and the uncertainty may lead to mental health challenges.
Dr Jamie Barker is a BPS sport and exercise psychologist working within premier league football who said “there are many psychological issues that have been raised as a result of the lockdown including players confidence in their body and their level of skill refinement. When you are used to kicking a ball around everyday and then you don’t have anyone to kick a ball around with these kind of mental questions can easily creep in. Especially now coming back into training, many players may be overly concerned about regaining their sense of confidence“.
The guidance encourages athletes to focus on what is within their control during this period of disruption, to maintain a sense of perspective and accept that some feelings of stress and anxiety are normal, particularly in the current situation.
It encourages athletes to use goal setting to give them structure in place of the disrupted sporting calendar, and to focus on personal development and learning new skills.
It also suggests that this enforced break offers an opportunity for athletes to reframe their long-term goals using the 5R cycle – reflect, re-evaluate, review, revise and record.
The guidance was produced by the BPS’s Covid -19 Sport and Exercise Psychology Working Group on behalf of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology and is part of a suite of resources that the BPS has produced to help people during the pandemic.
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