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Control the Controllables – 5 Things Young Athletes Can Do During Covid-19

young athlete jumping at strength & training facility in San Jose

Young athletes have been cooped up for the last 6-7 weeks and there’s been, undoubtedly, lots of disappointment.

Sports seasons have been cancelled. Young high school athletes who dreamed of showcasing their talents before coaches to earn an athletic scholarship has vanished. Competitive travel sports have been suspended. Some days, it seems like no end in site.

What needs to be done is to control the controllables. Don’t mind the things you can’t change. Now is the time to focus on the following 5 things that you and your young athlete can do right to stay (or, get back into being) field and game ready.

Stay in it to win it

Be that 24/7 athlete.

Many of us often only strive to get better when we’re doing the activity, but how about watching the activity, becoming a true student of your craft in your off-time?

Utilize YouTube and watch clips of the great ones doing things that help you elevate your game. You also still have to get your rest and eat right. Do the things that promote recovery and restoration so you can build on your current state of being.

Your mental game also matters – stay positive. Do those mental reps just like you would your physical ones. Give yourself some time to self reflect to help your mental aptitude.

Work on your limiting factor

No one is perfect. You always will have room to get better and strengthen your weaknesses. It’s not a weakness to admit that you have them, though it might be one to deny that you have any.

You have an opportunity to do a self-check on the things you can get better at right now, so you’re even better when you get back to the playing field.

Take advantage of every opportunity you have to work on your skill.

For example, if you’re a basketball player, you can work on your ball handling in your garage or right outside your door. If you’re a football player, just practicing self catching with a volleyball is a great way to stay on-point and limber. If you’re a tennis player, you can still work on your lateral movement, your jumping and landing techniques.

Train like the champs

Think the great ones are engaged in self pity right now? Definitely not. Young athletes have to maintain the same championship mindset! This is the time to do the things that will be absolutely critical for your performance.

They are:

a) Resistance training – Sure, you might not have weights or be able to go to the gym right now, but you have your body. Your body is a LOAD, and just lifting it is a lot of work. If you can do a lot of reps, correctly, with the right technique, you can get stronger with just your bodyweight during this period of time.

b) Mobility and flexibility can be improved at home. You’re probably sitting a lot more than usual, so you have to make sure you haven’t lost any flexibility. Take the time daily to stretch those hip flexors, to stretch your lower extremities, and engage that core to minimize the risk of pulling your muscles when you’re back on the field. It doesn’t take long to lose flexibility when not in use, so proper home training is key.

c) Conditioning is also vital, and the good news is there are multiple ways to get it done. All conditioning is is “heart rate elevation training”. If you don’t have a piece of equipment at home like a bike or elliptical, you can get your heart rate up very high even while being stationary (eg: jumping jacks, burpees, jumping squats, etc.) Get your heart rate up to 60-70% of your max heart rate for optimal conditioning. Remember that imperative work-to-rest ratio for interval training; 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off.

d) Speed train! If you have the opportunity, get out onto your street and just sprint. Dial into your technique so you can get from point A to point B even faster with less risk of injury. You have to build tolerance to accelerate and decelerate, to attenuate those loads so you are less susceptible to injury.

Eat right

A donut isn’t going to power you down the track the way a lean piece of chicken would. The science is solid – you can’t out train a bad diet.

Sure, it might be easier to consume the same amount of calories you were before the lockdown started. It’s probably even easier to eat worse types of calories than before. But, like abs, power and performance really are made in the kitchen.

Being home all the time means having constant access to food. Being home may also mean being bored. This is the time to practice self restraint.

Make sure you have a well-balanced diet. Your plate should be a rainbow of color, not just a bunch of brown and grey. Include protein with every meal. No late night binges and no constant snacking.

When we’re stressed, it’s easier to “emotionally eat”. It’s easy to eat if we’re bored. There is a real difference between true hunger and just being bored. You’re also more likely to feel hungry if you don’t sleep enough or drink enough, so again, get that rest and stay hydrated.

Lastly, staying at or getting to a weight goal is important. Whatever that goal is for you, make sure you hold yourself accountable to it.

Keep your eye on the prize

Be better as a result of steps 1-4 that you’ve been focused on during the lockdown, not behind. This will eventually lift and when it does, you don’t want to have to lose precious time to get back to where you were 2-3 months ago. You may have lost the competitive season, but you have a chance to get better right now to improve those limiting factors.

As a young athlete, or parent of one, take the time you’re being given right now to work on conditioning, speed, mobility and flexibility.

Look at this time as an OPPORTUNITY. It’s a step-back, not a setback. If you maintain that positive attitude, put in the work and win the day, you’ll come out of this seamlessly.

Though we can’t be with you in person right now, you can #winthe10 with us right now. Check us out on YouTube for interval training in 10 minutes or less.

If you want virtual training, we have that, too. Click here to get started.