These are very difficult times for athletes, with daily routines thrown out the window and training schedules ripped to shreds due to the lockdown caused by COVID-19. A handful of professional athletes might have their own tennis courts, putting greens, swimming pools, gyms etc. in their own homes, but most of us do not have that luxury, and have to figure out our own ways to maintain our fitness and skill levels.
Some of you might have started going for more runs than usual, or using what you have at home to come up with exercises to replace the ones that you normally do. However, it could be difficult to find the motivation to keep going, as these are completely new routines, where the enjoyment and competitive aspects you have grown accustomed to during training and matches are not there.
A fun and useful exercise for you to try at home
This is an exercise that I have specifically created with tennis players that I am working with, in order to make new routines as enjoyable and motivating as possible, so that while you are unable to train, you can still work on your game. I have used a tennis example here as I specialise in racquet sports and work mostly with tennis players, but you can do similar exercises with other sports such as football, basketball, and golf.
- Having tennis volley competitions with people you live with:
- Try different volley variations (alternating between forehand and backhand every shot, forehands only, backhands only etc), and see how many you can do.
- If there are significant differences in skill level between players, come up with your own handicap system (e.g. player A has to hit 3 times as many volleys as player B to win), that way it will always be competitive, creating pressure scenarios where your mental skills can be tested. It’s also beneficial from a motivational point of view, as player A has to improve by 3 shots every time player B improves by 1 shot!
- If you live on your own, you can record yourself hitting volleys, and have competitions in the same way with hitting partners/friends via videos.
For variation, you can do half volleys, or even get creative and do a bit of groundstrokes as well. The purpose of this exercise is to keep your competitive drive going during a time where there are no competitions, keeping up motivation levels by giving yourself a constantly varying target (your opponents’ volley scores), given that they improve over time, which is more effective than just setting yourself random individual targets. At the same time, this will allow you to improve your volleys and have you ready to serve volley as soon as training sessions and matches resume!
If you have found this blog useful, be sure to stay tuned for our regular blog updates, as part of a new feature we are doing on www.JLSportPerformance.com. The next blog will be on how to adopt a crisis mindset to help you stick to your new routines throughout the duration of the lockdown, minimising the chances of you slacking off or grabbing another packet of crisps just because you can!
Stay home and stay safe!
HCPC registered and Chartered Sport Psychologist based in the North-East of England.