3 Keys to Thriving in the Pro Sports Bubbles
With the NBA and NHL returning to action recently in the closed off cocoons that are their respective bubbles, the athletes, coaches and other officials are facing a never before seen experience. While we as fans have heard about the lavish amenities that have been set up for these bubble-dwelling athletes (golf, bowling or fishing anyone?!) there also lies some challenging mental obstacles to navigate. These include the fear of Covid-19 infection, isolation from friends and family, and an inability to “get away from the game”, to name a few.
Drawing on my own previous athlete village experience (not a bubble but as close as we’ve seen before) and my extensive study around anxiety and how our minds work, I can offer these 3 pieces of advice:
Find a new routine
Normal routines of these athletes will be drastically altered by living in the bubble. Routines are an important part of training and pre-competition and are used by virtually all high level athletes. They are helpful as it allows the mind to be at ease while following a familiar rhythm and sequence of events, fostering a feeling of being in control.
Sports are typically anything but predictable so preparing with some predictability provides comfort and allows the athlete to settle more into the present moment where they need to be to perform their best.
Find time for relaxation
Being around your teammates and other players all day, every day for so long can lead an athlete to focus too much attention on their craft. Athletes need breaks from this single-mindedness, especially if they’re coming off a tough outing.
Finding time to watch movies, play games or videogames, or read a good book are great ways to give the mind a rest and to bond with teammates.
Find time to re-center
Being out of a normal routine, being around so many people all the time and learning all of the new Covid-19 bubble rules can leave the mind feeling scattered and stressed. Finding time to reset – whether through a formal mediation practice, listening to your favorite music, or getting outside for a walk alone – is so beneficial to be able to let go of mental chatter and become more connected with the present.
It’s awesome to hear that the NBA and NHL are taking their players’ mental health so seriously in this unprecedented situation by offering mental health services onsite. I hope players are able to take advantage of this time to not only enjoy the once in a lifetime (we hope) experience but to also grow and learn something new.
About Derek Mayson
I am the creator of the Locked In Mental Training Program, a 6-week online course designed to educate sportspeople about the mind and how to train it for calm, clarity and success in sports. My 14 year international fastpitch career is highlighted by a World Championship and a Pan Am Games gold medal with Team Canada and I've worked and studied to overcome an anxiety disorder that at one point derailed my career.
I live in North Vancouver, BC, Canada with my wife and 2 kids.