With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in the country and the majority of the world, bringing back regular sports games is the least of our problems. Resuming sports practice is still unsafe to do even while stay-at-home guidelines have eased in many cities, and many sports centers and gyms remain closed or operate at a limited capacity.
However, this also means that for many athletes, the lack of training or the prolonged break from retraining can lead to deconditioning of physiological systems and physical abilities.
Individual training has proved to be effective in preventing the detrimental effect of limited physical activity on athletic abilities. But how do regular athletes (those who don’t have professional trainers and private training facilities) continue practicing in the middle of a pandemic?
Here are several strategies that can help.
Create your own practice area
Your backyard may not be big enough to play proper football or other field sports, but you may have enough space for a small area dedicated to your practice. For example, if you play baseball, buy a radar gun and a speed pitch to practice your pitches. If you play basketball, install a hoop on the side of the house and put up nets around the fences to keep your ball from ending up in the neighbors’ backyard.
These measures may not provide the same quality or intensity of training as in a proper field or court, but having your own practice area can help you get the much-needed physical activity to prevent the deconditioning of your body.
Focus on skill-building drills
While it is still not yet deemed 100% safe to play sports with others, focus on skill-building drills in the meantime. Performing drills can help keep your body conditioned while outdoor mobility is still limited, either alone or with members of the same household. If you must perform these drills in a public space, ensure that you stay at least six feet away from other people and that you wear a proper face covering.
As much as possible, play sports outdoors. Indoor sports pose a greater risk because of the need for adequate ventilation, which is not always possible to control in sports facilities. However, keep in mind that outdoor sports also pose a risk, albeit smaller, unless you are playing alone and at a good distance from other people.
Do not share equipment
If you are playing sports with other people, refrain from sharing equipment. As much as possible, bring your own equipment. Otherwise, sanitize equipment completely before and after using. Always keep a container of at least 70% alcohol with you to sanitize your hands, equipment, as well as other surfaces you may need to touch.
Assess facilities before using
Some sports cannot be played without a proper facility. If you are going to a gym, court, or any other venue, assess its level of ventilation first. Is the building old or new? Older buildings tend to be draftier and thus are more likely to have better airflow. Are there large overhead fans in the building? These fans can move contaminated air away quickly. Is the building large and are the ceilings high? Larger buildings allow for better airflow than smaller ones and may pose a smaller risk to harboring the virus in the air.
More importantly, look at the number of people using the facility. The more people there are in one space, the higher the risk of catching the virus. It is best to use a facility that allows only a low number of people in at a time and sanitizes surfaces periodically.
Practice and conditioning are still possible despite the pandemic. However, there are many precautions you need to take to ensure that you are not exposing yourself to the virus. But even with these precautions in place, don’t let your guard down until the virus has been completely eradicated.