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COVID-19 and Sports Withdrawal: Not the Kind of March Madness We Were Expecting

Updated: Mar 28


In recent weeks U.S. sporting events from youth to professional levels have been cancelled at widespread, unprecedented rates. Many gyms and recreational centers are down to skeleton crews with a few diehard patrons, if not shuttered altogether. Of course all this change has been part of a broader and quite justified public health effort to prevent the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus. While these actions are necessary for the sake of society, they leave a great many of us going through various kinds of sports withdrawal symptoms. Fans and athletes alike are dealing with major halts in the flow of their teams' normal schedules, with no clear idea of when or even whether their seasons will resume.


So what are we to do? Here are a few suggestions to stave off sports withdrawal, which we might consider a novel and very unwelcome strain of March Madness.


Check out a podcast

Maybe the first idea that comes to mind when you think of sports podcasts is your favorite team or sport. And while there are probably multiple podcasts for either of those categories, there are many other topics to stimulate your sporting mind. Exercise science, sports statistics, and the psychology of winning are just a few examples to get you started. It's possible your favorite player even has a podcast to follow!


Hit the books

From biographies to instructional manuals to novels, there's plenty of reading to be done on all things sports. If you're reading this you probably have at least a passing interest in the mental side of sports, so to get you started here's a list of the seven best sport psychology books of 2020.


Sports video gaming

Whether you have the latest in virtual reality gaming technology or an old console that's been languishing in the back of a cabinet, there are sports-themed options to (re)kindle your interest. Options abound from NBA2K to Mario and Sonic at the Winter Olympics.


At-home exercise

Technology isn't (and shouldn't be) the only way to cope with the current public health dilemma. For an option that will help you stay in shape if you're an athlete, get in shape if you've been sedentary, and stimulate your brain either way, how about some at-home exercise? No equipment? No problem. YouTube and App stores offer all kinds of core workouts and high intensity interval training (HIIT) options that require no equipment beyond your own body. You could even hit up your coach or athletic trainer for some ideas. They'll probably be glad to hear from you!


Go to the archives

In the world of movies, the sports genre is as robust as any. Maybe it's time to dust off the DVDs or hit up your favorite streaming service for a good dose of the humor and inspiration that come from classic sports movies. But a trip down memory late doesn't have to stop at Hollywood. You can check the sports networks for classic contests of your favorite teams. Or if you're a sports parent, maybe it's time to actually watch some of that youth sports footage that's been accumulating on your phone or camera!


Get outside

Spring is here! Take advantage of the increasing daylight and more agreeable weather to get some sunshine and sharpen your basic sports skills. There are solo drills and activities for pretty much any sport (again, check with your coach), and maybe you have options to practice with someone in your household. As long as you follow safe social distancing guidelines, being outdoors will help you stay healthy and maintain conditioning for whenever your sports seasons resume.


Stay sharp with mental imagery

Learning to do mental imagery can be a great way to keep your sports skills honed while isolated from your team and sports venue. When you develop the skill of full sensory, first-person, real time imagery, you have a great way to keep your brain engaged and your nervous system prepared for getting back on the court or field when life gets back to normal.


Imagery is great for getting through injuries and performance anxiety as well! If you're interested in learning more about this valuable mental training tool, contact me! And check out this article on the topic.


COVID-19 is having a big impact on our society, and showing every sign of increasing before it subsides. Rather than succumbing to sports withdrawal or letting social distancing get the better of you, use the above strategies to keep your mind and body stimulated, and your passion for sports alive!

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