Covid-19: Importance Of Mental Health For Sportsmen During Lockdown Times 

Covid-19: Importance Of Mental Health For Sportsmen During Lockdown Times  1

Hyderabad, NFA Post: Indian men’s hockey team’s mainstay and forward, Simranjeet Singh is confident he will be an improved player when he gets back on the pitch as soon as the Lockdown imposed across the country in the wake of the COVID-19 is lifted and training is allowed.

“I have been watching a lot of videos from our previous matches. It has given me a chance to note the aspects of my game that I need to work on,” the 23-year-old says from his base in Bengaluru.

“It surely is a tough time for all of us. We have to stay positive and hope that the situation resolves soon. We are making good use of time to learn from our performances.”

Hearteningly, from an Indian point of view, Simranjeet Singh’ positive tone contrasts sharply with the results of a survey by the global football players’ union – FIFPRO. The survey revealed that several players have been reporting symptoms of depression or anxiety since sport came to a standstill because of COVID-19.

FIFPRO said 22 per cent of women players and 13 per cent of men players who took part in a survey reported symptoms “consistent with a diagnosis of depression” such as lack of interest, lack of appetite, lack of energy and self-esteem. Besides, 18 per cent of women players and 16% per cent of men reported symptoms of generalised anxiety such as worry or tension.

One of the reasons for Simranjeet Singh sounding positive could be his ready acceptance of the situation. Sports psychologist Dr Chaitanya Sridhar said acknowledging this phase might bring a shift in moods, hopelessness and anxiety about the future. “It is then a big step to accepting (this phase) and reviewing goals. It’s a fine balance between vision and managing the present,” she said.

“Taking it one day at a time and productive focus on hobbies will also aid. Athletes need to remember that this too shall pass. Of course, reaching out to professionals would help. Reaching out for support is a sign of strength and will be good to cope with the situation and rework on short-term goals,” said Dr Chaitanya Sridhar.

Sports physiologist Deepthi Indukuri, Director of Smart Progression Sports, said athletes who have been maintaining nutrition and are in a positive frame of mind will be able to get back to competition faster than others. It is important not to assume that an athlete can as perform well soon after sport resumes as before the COVID-19 imposed break.

“Performance would drop in most cases as the load on the body is now less than during competition,” she said. “Upon returning to the sport, it is very important to give athletes time to adapt to strenuous on-field activities. Getting back to the sport at a safe pace will be crucial. Rushing it could create stress on the athlete’s body which can lead to injuries.”

One way for an athlete to do that will be to ignore what is not in his or her control, Chennai-based psychologist Keerthana Swaminathan said. “Most of us go through negative emotions because we try to control things we cannot. By shifting our focus to things that can be controlled by us, it allows us to be positive, productive and enables us to deal with the situation better,” she said.

“This is also a good time for athletes to look back on how they have performed and address any areas of concern. It would be better if they look at opportunities to improve in their game. For example, they could analyse their mindset during matches. Also, setting short-term goals to work on and changing after analysing and working on it gradually helps,” Keerthana Swaminathan said.

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