The Covid-19 pandemic has affected all areas of life including the sports arena. Social distancing measures which are meant to limit the spread of coronavirus have had a significant effect on sporting fixtures and activities.
This has affected every aspect of sports from players, coaches, spectators, sponsors and even media coverage. It is also noted that Covid-19 has also suspended sporting calendar in the country with Kenyan leagues suspending their activities to limit the spread of the virus.
Even the Olympic Games, typically one the world’s most-watched sporting event have been suspended.
The World Athletics Under-20 Championship which was to be held in Kenya with the Sports Village being Kenyatta University has also been postponed to a later date. Everyone in the sport community including soccer is feeling the impact of Covid-19.
Sports federations and stakeholders in Kenya in particular and globally in general are hopefully developing contingency measures to ensure the effect of Covid-19 are contained sooner rather than later with minimal disruptions not only to the various sports disciplines but also to the health and fitness of the sportsmen and women.
It is worth noting that measures such as staying at home and social distancing may cause sportsman and women as well as coaches and other sports personnel to feel physically alone, socially isolated, fearful, anxious, depressed and worried.
Very many other people are feeling the same and it is important for sportsmen and women to stay virtually connected say through Whatsapp and other medium of communication.
Sportsmen and women need to share their feelings, habits and practices with family, friends, coaches and professional colleagues.
Sports coaches and managers should keep constant touch with their players as they prepare for a post-coronavirus life.
It will never be business as usual again.
All aspects of sports will have to change in the changing rooms, warm-up area, stadium, field and even in the terrace where our spectators sit. The following tips may assist Kenyan sportsmen and women as we go through these difficult times of Covid-19:
Thanking about how they want to continue engaging in their sport:
While keeping the latest social distancing and general recommendations in mind, one might be able to continue training to a certain degree.
Resting and recovery:
Sportsmen and women might want to use the “time-out” to rest and recover or engage in other interests and simply do personal training to maintain fitness level.
Our Sportsmen and women may also want to discuss their goals and expectations with their coaches and managers. It has to be a joint and collective decision.
Remember your philosophy:
Even with no competition in the near future, reflecting, remembering the reason for training and competing in sport, can help our sportsmen and women to remain positive and motivated while adapting to current restrictions.
Talking and sharing:
Sportsmen and women need to identify people they trust who can be sources of support and guidance during this time. Staying in touch with coaches and teammates via SMS and social media can help a great deal.
Proper nutrition is critical to sports performance during pre-season, in-season and off-season. The issue of good nutrition therefore calls for serious attention even during this period of Covid-19.
Sleep is extremely important for sports performance as well as physical and mental health. There is evidence that sleep plays a major role in the performance and recovery of sportsmen and women. It is therefore important that our athletes get enough quality sleep. Sleep quality is more important than sleep quantity.
Focusing on physical and mental fitness:
If a sportsman or woman decides to continue training, it may be easier to continue improving flexibility, strength, and mentality training during this time.
Vincent Onywera is a Professor of Exercise and Sports Science in the Department of Physical Education, Exercise and Sports Science at Kenyatta University.