Story by: Nate Strothman on June 23, 2020
Athletes of all ages are coming back to their sports. And while they are getting back into game shape physically, there are many mental and emotional hurdles athletes face with COVID-19 still looming.
“In theory this break could have been good for the athletes, physically,” said Vanessa Shannon, Ph.D., Director of Mental Performance for Norton Sports Health and University of Louisville Athletics. “The problem is the time away was filled with other stressors. It hasn’t exactly been a mental, emotional or psychological break.”
Even with all the resources athletes have for their mental well-being and stability, according to Dr. Shannon, preparing to return will require them to adjust to changes designed to keep athletes safe during the pandemic.
Two of the biggest changes facing these athletes, especially those at the collegiate level, are the possibility of not having spectators in the stands and a greater integration of technology. According to Dr. Shannon, these changes will require some athletes to implement new tactics into their preparation to get themselves ready for game day.
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Norton Sports Health is the official health care provider of the Louisville Cardinals and the official medical provider of Ironman Louisville.
“In terms of ready to play, most of the athletes are raring to come back,” she said. “However, the intensity of play, without spectators, could leave athletes feeling flat; some athletes will have to learn how to activate themselves without the help of the crowd. In addition, athletes may have to learn to manage the disruption of new technology, for example scoring in golf.”
Dr. Shannon also emphasized that athletes likely will have to shake off some rust from the extended break. This could be especially challenging as confidence for many of these players comes from daily preparation, which has been disrupted during the pandemic by lack of access to resources and facilities.
“Not only are athletes dealing with concern regarding the virus, but also about not living up their own expectations when they return,” Dr. Shannon said. “It will take some time for them to regain that confidence.”
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