Social Distancing & Sports: Alternatives for Families

Dec 14 2020

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Baseball fields are bare. Tennis courts are closed. The athletic community at Friends’ Central and beyond has shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While educational leaders remain hopeful that activities may be able to resume at some point this year, there is the possibility that the social distancing mandate will be extended through the end of the school year. The priority, as it should be, is making sure that everyone is safe.

It is important to stay grounded and remember that sports are just one of the things that have been lost due to social distancing measures. As disruptive as it may be, physical interactions need to be minimized in order to flatten the curve and lessen the strain placed on hospitals and healthcare professionals.

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This does not mean all connections with others must disappear, though. On the contrary, we are and must remain even more united now than we’ve been in the past in order to get through this challenge together. 

Luckily, a lack of team sports doesn’t need to mean a lack of physical activity. You have a lot of options to get active, stay in shape, and relieve some of the stress associated with the pandemic. We take a look at some of those alternatives below.

Ways to Stay Active While Physical Distancing

1. Get outside.

An athlete must be mindful of his or her mental and physical health during these times, and doing some sort of physical activity can have significant benefits for both. Even though teams cannot hold formal practices, athletes should still get outside, get some fresh air, and remain active.

Whether it’s taking a hike or planting a garden, incorporate outside activities int your daily routine to break up the monotony of being stuck indoors. Even as little as 20 to 30 minutes each day can have an enormous benefit.

2. Connect with teammates and coaches remotely.

If nothing else, teams are a small community. Like any community, it’s still important to remain connected even if you can’t physically be together. Fortunately, today’s technology allows teams to connect without ever setting foot in a locker room or field together.

When Friends’ Central first started to prepare for the pandemic, coaches created a practice plan not only so players could be active at home, but also so athletes could have hope. Each coach has different methods, but they all model a positive attitude by continuing to communicate a message of unity with the players.

Teammates can adopt this practice too, by staying connected through phone calls, text messages, or video chats. 

3. Complete at-home workouts.

One way student-athletes can maintain their physical and mental health is by exercising at home. Don’t have a home-gym or exercise equipment? No problem! You may be surprised to learn that you can get quite the workout using nothing more than your own bodyweight. 

To help students stay active while home, Friends Central faculty and coaches have created a Remote Athletics and Wellness Program that all students can access and complete on their own. 

Click here to view the workouts.

4. Be creative.

Don’t forget that wellness extends beyond the body. While we are all social distancing, it’s also important to embrace mental wellness by finding activities that help calm us and reduce our stress. Creative activities like art, music, and journaling are just a few examples of activities students can practice at home in the name of personal health. Find something that makes you happy and which gets your creative juices flowing, and incorporate it into your daily routine.

What We Learn From Teams in Times of Crisis

Remember the 4 G’s: Goals, grit, gratitude, and generosity. Even though we do not have sports at this time, there are still lessons we can learn from them. Team sports create a sense of community to overcome a common obstacle. We all now face a common obstacle, so we must come together in order to overcome it.

First, identify what you wish to accomplish and recognize that even though it is going to take sacrifice and perseverance to meet that goal, there are still things to be thankful for. One way to express that thankfulness is by paying it forward, being kind, and serving the community so that we do more than just get through this situation; we grow from it. 

Even though this pandemic may seem more intimidating than any previously faced adversary, we can still use the lessons we learned from sports to beat it. Why do we play sports? What do we learn by playing sports? Children are taught adversity will awaken courage. Even when there’s uncertainty and the future is hard to imagine, know that when it is over, we will learn from this experience. We’ve endured obstacles in the past (injuries, losing seasons, etc.), but we have always demonstrated resilience in the face of those struggles. 

Going Forward

This is without a doubt the most difficult time many families have ever faced. While it may be easy to feel isolated while practicing safe social distancing, remember you can only control what you can control. We are in a time that’s uncertain, but one thing that is certain is we are still capable of caring for our physical and mental health by showing perseverance and kindness. 

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