The New Year for athletes

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A colour palette of players istockphoto

A general look into what athletes can look forward to

As we enter into a new year, we should be excited for everything that is to come. However, that same excitement may not be meeting us in the same way this time. The idea of tryouts, tournaments, travelling for competitions, team bonding, and championships are ideas that we may need to be okay letting go of for the time being. This can be hard as these are some of the best parts of athletics and oftentimes are the things that keep us coming back to them no matter how challenging they may be. We want the experiences that our teammates provide, the connections that we make with our coaches and the pride that we feel by contributing to something that is bigger than just us. With restrictions still in place many of these desires will not be tangible for a while. Here are some ways that we can still hold onto that excitement and find things to anticipate within this new year that may not seem so hopelessly out of reach from where we are standing currently.

First, it is important that we change our mindsets regarding the goals and expectations that we have for this year. While normally we are going after the best outcomes, first place in competitions, tournaments and recognition from other individuals within our divisions as being a top competitor, these are expectations that need to be scaled back. It is time for some goals that might seem as though they are not as significant in comparison but can be the start to us getting back to where we all hope to be.

Some things that we can look forward to doing once more this year is being able to get back to practicing with our individual teams, trainers and friends. Although our practices may look different, taking places with masks and potentially with more skill building than potential scrimmaging, we can still look forward to the idea of getting back into it at some point within the upcoming year. With fewer opportunities to travel with teammates and spend continuous weekends in tournaments, bonding with those who we compete with could prove to be challenging. This allows for a new and unique opportunity that we can all look forward to as well, which is focusing on building and strengthening the bond that we have with everyone who is a part of our team. Building these relationships with teammates, coaches and others involved can be considered more important than ever given the isolation we experienced in the last few months. Not only can we focus on our inner circles, but we can also set new expectations and goals regarding our own skill development. With restrictions in place, now is the time to learn basics or to go back to them. The fundamentals are often something that we ease up on and constantly need to be reminded to follow through and do them by coaches and trainers. Now is the time to set those goals to complete different drills and exercises with the proper form, footwork, running pattern or whatever else you feel is important for you to work on in order to get back to those vital fundamentals.

Instead of looking at some of the big pictures events that typically take place, we can look at utilizing the platform we are given as athletes to do some good within the community. Become excited about the impact that you and your teammates can have by looking at local charities and organizations. Decide on one or two that have a mission statement that aligns with what is important to you and your team. Then utilize the money you would have spent on out-of-town tournaments to donate to these organizations. Everyone has struggled this past year and as athletes we are given a unique platform that we can use to make a positive impact. This is something that can be as much or as little effort as you want that can bring forth feelings of pride.

Things are hard and we are all waiting for events and activities to go back to the way they used to be. This could take a while and we should not let that discourage us. Set goals that feel tangible, whether that is within your own life, your teams or your communities. Keep your head up and be prepared to get back in the game whenever we are able to. Things are hard now but they will not be hard forever.

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