How to Help Athletes Missing their Season

Whether you are in High School or College, missing one of the few seasons you get to play your sport because of the pandemic is hard. It is especially difficult for the Seniors who lost their last season. We are in unprecedented times and to, basically out of nowhere, lose your season can be especially difficult for someone in their late teens and early twenties. Given the work I do with high school and college athletes on their mental performance, I wanted to share my thoughts on how to help the athlete who lost their athletic season.

  1. Allow the athlete to sit with the emotion they are feeling

Nobody else in their lifetime has experienced losing their season 100% due to something they could not control. It’s normal and okay to feel angry, sad, frustrated, mad, disappointed, and everything in between. Allowing our athletes to express those emotions and what they’re going through can be an incredibly helpful tactic. Do not try to “fix” their emotion but rather just ask questions and allow them to share with you what they are feeling.

  1. Remember you’re not the only one going through this

It can be easy to only focus on what has happened to us and the pain we are going through, but it’s important to recognize all similar aged athletes are feeling this way. Understanding that you are not alone can make this easier to deal with. In regards to that, talk with your teammates about what they’re going through as it can be helpful to talk it out with others feeling the same way. Don’t lose that personal touch with your teammates because the season has been cancelled. You need your teammates now more than ever to get through this.

  1. Try to focus on what you can control

As the seasons have been in flux, it’s been incredibly difficult to prepare to be in your best shape when the season starts. That’s totally understandable and nobody expects you to be at your best when all of a sudden your season begins. It is totally acceptable for someone to expect you to bring a positive attitude, work-hard, and be a good teammate through all of this. Focus on what you can control during this pandemic and not the external factors.

  1. Focus on creating a new vision/identity for yourself

As athletes, especially elite atheltes, we have a tendency to put ourselves in a box as an athlete. Whenever you describe yourself to new people, you most likely say some form of “I’m a baseball player,” or a family member often refers to you as “Johnny the baseball player.” Use this time to understand why you play your sport and what your values are. When we can begin to think of ourselves and our identify from a values perspective, it can be less daunting when we lose our season. Perhaps you play your sport because of the relationships you build with your teammates, and even during a pandemic when you can’t play your sport, you can still work on and maintain those relationships.

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