How our athletes kept going during COVID-19 restrictions

Nothing could stop South West Academy of Sport athletes from maintaining their competitive edge during the height of the COVID-19 shutdown.

When coronavirus restrictions put the brakes on normal fitness and training routines, the young sports men and women got creative.

They adapted by setting up home gyms, seeking alternative places to practice, and receiving virtual coaching.

And SWAS – as always – was there to support the bright young stars of the future.

SWAS chief executive officer Bernice Butlion said that the academy provided online training programs and workshops to “keep the athletes training like pros”.

“Where possible, SWAS also provided support to athletes to purchase equipment to support their strength and conditioning home-based programs,” Butlion said.

“I am of the opinion that our athletes who have been training in isolation during COVID-19 will be diligently prepared – both mentally and physically – once the respective sport season commences again.”

SWAS hockey head coach Nicole Arrold said athletes were encouraged to establish new routines to ensure structure for those who had to work more independently when it came to home schooling and training in isolation.

“The SWAS hockey athletes were asked to create a daily schedule to try and maintain as much ‘normality’ as possible,” Arrold said.

“The idea was this structure would help keep them on track and motivated.

“So, athletes would schedule in a mix of exercise, school work, down time, meditation and social time – connecting with friends through technology.”

SWAS netball head coach Dale Nielsen said it had been a challenging time for athletes, with disappointment stemming from events being cancelled.

“Our SWAS athletes were all given home programs as well as phone contact with the coach,” Nielsen said.

“Challenges were set for the athletes. For example, the number of push-ups in 30 seconds

“The focus has been more on wellbeing rather than the fitness component. For instance, maintaining contact with friends, and ideas to address boredom.”

Tips for training in isolation from SWAS sports psychologist Domenic Marzano:

“Limit your exposure to the media reports. Set some realistic short-term goals. Take it one week at a time and adjust your goals as needed.

Practice good self-care including your sleep routine, dietary choices, and plan your day/week with structure and routine. Athletes are used to this, so it’s very important.

Connect with family and friends and find some pleasure in every day.

Most of all, remember it is normal to be feeling some stress and/or anxiety about the pandemic and the changes to your life.”